Jasper Philipsen outsprints the world’s best to win stage one of the UAE Tour

The Belgian started his season with a dominant sprint victory in the first showdown of the race.

Jasper Philipsen wins stage one UAE Tour.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Jasper Philipsen opened this year’s WorldTour calendar with a bang, pipping Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Elia Viviani (Ineos Grenadiers) in a bunch sprint on stage one of the UAE Tour.

The Alpecin-Fenix rider, a podium constant in 2021, showed the race’s stacked field of fast men that he would be the man to beat this season.

With this victory, Philipsen took the lead of the UAE Tour and claimed the race’s red jersey to wear on stage two.

How it happened

Starting and finishing in the town of Madinat Zayed, the opening stage headed south on a long, straight road through the desert. The first tilt of the handlebars wouldn’t be expected until 53km into the 184km-long route, when a right turn set the riders on a rolling circuit of dunes. The same highway then awaited the pack for the long road home to the finish line.

The race rolled out with little urgency, allowing a five-man breakaway to form. Composed of Luca Rastelli, Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè), Pavel Kochetkov, Dmitry Strakhov (Gazprom-RusVelo) and Xandres Vervloesem (Lotto Soudal), the group quickly established a buffer, which yo-yoed between two and four minutes ahead of the peloton for most of the day.

With 88km to go, an intermediate sprint offered the breakaway a chance to stretch their legs. A long-range dig from Kochetkov paved the way for his Gazprom-RusVelo teammate Strakhov to counter and take maximum points over the line at Moreeb Dune.   

The second intermediate sprint came 30km later and was again won by Strakhov ahead of Tonelli and Vervloesem. With no more primes on offer, the Russian sat up to let the advancing peloton absorb him back into the pack. The gap to the now four-man breakaway fell to less than a minute for the first time. The forecast bunch sprint looked inevitable.

As the tension grew, a touching of wheels in the peloton caused Rick Zabel (Israel-Premier Tech) to hit the asphalt. The rest of the pack, fortunately, stayed upright and continued to cruise along the endless desert highway.

With no corners, roundabouts or technical twists, the run-in to the finish would be a pure test of power for the sprint trains.

The lead-outs began 11km from the line as the teams arranged themselves in throngs of colour across the wide road. Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, Jumbo Visma and Bahrain Victorious claimed their spots at the front of the bunch, leaving the sprinters behind them to lurk in their slipstream.

Of the illustrious start list of sprinting talent, only one could win, and those honours went to Alpecin-Fenix’s Jasper Philipsen in a chaotic race finale. 

With speeds reaching 70km/h, the Belgian came off the wheel of Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) and unleashed a fierce kick along the barriers on the right side of the road. Philipsen’s smart positioning gave Dylan Groenewegen (BikeExchange-Jayco) no room to come round, and the 23-year-old was able to stay ahead of the onslaught of elite sprinters who arrived strewn over the line. 

The victory marked a dream season debut for Philipsen who made it one win from one race in 2022.  

Results

UAE Tour 2022, Stage one: Madinat Zayed to Madinat Zayed (184km)

1. Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix, in 4-24-34
2. Sam Bennett (Ire) Bora-Hansgrohe, at same time
3. Elia Viviani (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers
4. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) BikeExchange-Jayco
5. Emils Liepins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo
6. Arnaud Démare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
7. Max Kanter (Ger) Movistar
8. Olav Kooij (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
9. Tom Devriendt (Bel) Intermarché–Wanty–Gobert Matériaux
10. Pascal Ackermann (Ger) UAE Team Emirates, all at same time

General classification after stage one

1. Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix, in 4-24-34
2. Sam Bennett (Ire) Bora-Hansgrohe, at same time
3. Elia Viviani (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers
4. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) BikeExchange-Jayco
5. Emils Liepins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo
6. Arnaud Démare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
7. Max Kanter (Ger) Movistar
8. Olav Kooij (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
9. Tom Devriendt (Bel) Intermarché–Wanty–Gobert Matériaux
10. Pascal Ackermann (Ger) UAE Team Emirates, all at same time

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