UAE Tour 2023 – Stage 3

It is time for the first of two mountain top finishes.


It is a quite simple stage. Flat until Jebel Jais.

Jebel Jais is often ended in a GC sprint. A long steady climb with low gradients. 10, 6 and 4 bonus seconds at the top.


Less wind than on stage 1. The first two thirds of the stage is a cross-headwind (5-6 m/s). When they approach the climb in the final third of the stage, the wind calms down to 4 m/s from the S. That means a tailwind on the climb.

How will the stage unfold?

We still have almost a dead heat between three of the favorites, Plapp, Evenepoel and Bilbao. It will be between the three of them to find the winner of this year’s edition. In terms of who this climb suits best the order goes: Bilbao, Evenepoel and Plapp. That means it is up to Quick-Step and INEOS to try and distance Bilbao, which is impossible on Jebel Jais.

Now, UAE Team Emirates do not have a single rider in the top 35 in GC. I think we need to look at them as the team, who will put the pressure on as early as possible on the climb. They must. I think it will be a foolish choice to ride with only one leader. I expect McNulty to have a free role with Yates, the rest are too far back in the GC. Main problem for them is, it is just not that decisive. Jebel Hafeet will be their best choice for redemption.

We should see a reduced GC sprint. I can see Plapp wanting to avoid a GC sprint. I think that can allow riders from further down a bit of freedom (Bouchard, Lutsenko, Kuss). The best thing for INEOS is having those seconds taken by anyone else than Bilbao and Evenepoel. Bilbao will ride for the sprint, while Evenepoel is the one in between. He can sprint better than Plapp but it would be really odd if Evenepoel does not attack at any point.


Plapp – It will be difficult to defend the jersey tomorrow. As mentioned, he does not have the fastest sprint and therefore the best thing to do could be allowing riders further down in GC to attack and take the stage to defend the leader’s jersey.

Evenepoel – he has become a better sprinter but I’m still not sold on the fact that he is faster in an uphill sprint than a few of the contenders here. Best scenario is a reduced GC sprint where he takes bonus seconds on the line. Therefore, I think he is less willing to see late attacks being allowed freedom and he will counter them.

Bilbao – can more or less ride tomorrow without taking any responsibility on the climb. As for him, a reduced GC sprint is the optimal outcome. He should be able to beat both Evenepoel and Plapp in a 5% uphill sprint.

Yates – sitting over a minute down. I guess the plan must be to attack, hope that Plapp does not care giving him 20 seconds in GC and take a stage win. He has finished on the podium twice in a row on this climb and tomorrow I expect the same.

McNulty – same position in the GC as A. Yates. One of the faster contenders here. I wonder if he will be the attacking option, while Yates follow and waits for a sprint. Nonetheless, it gives UAE Team Emirates two strong options inside the finale kilometer where domestiques tend to be low on this climb.

Kuss – Late attack #1. Not a GC threat.

Bouchard – Late attack #2. Not a GC threat.

Lutsenko – almost won from the breakaway in 2021. Late attack #3, I hope he returns to usual early season form soon.

Gloag – late attack #4. His 6th in Valencianna GC was not a coincidence.

Who will win?

I think it will be difficult for Plapp to mark every late attack. Then again, it is Evenepoel and Bilbao that really wants the bonus seconds. I think a lot of strong riders sit far down in GC, and that potentially means more attacks than we are used too on the climb.

I think UAE Team Emirates has two good options. Yates is likely the one Bilbao and Evenepoel are watching the most, leaving McNulty some freedom to take the first win of the season.

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