Astana's Tanel Kangert claimed a nearly unassailable lead in the Abu Dhabi Tour with a brilliant solo attack on the climb of Jebel Hafeet.
Tanel Kangert of Astana Pro Team won the third stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour on Saturday. The Estonian rider finished the 150-km Al Ain-Jebel Hafeet Strata Stage in 3 hours, 31 minutes and 31 seconds. He also took the lead in the overall general classification.
He earned the red jersey after being the first atop Jebel Hafeet. Irish champion Nicolas Roche of Team Sky was second. Italian Diego Ulissi of Lampre-Merida, Astana Pro Team's Vincenzo Nibali and Alberto Contador complete the top five of general classification.
Kangert rode away solo with 3.2km to go to take over from Mark Cavendish of Team Dimension Data in the lead of the overall ranking as the Tour end on Sunday.
Kangert claimed the win as Nibali decided to give a chance to his faithful domestique who has played a key role in many of his great successes.
Red Jersey Tanel Kangert said: "I have to thank my team for the freedom they gave me. We had two cards to play. It sounds like a cliche to thank the team but it's true, we rode from the beginning and I reached the climb fresh. Nibali did a good job behind me. We've had four good years together. He's a captain who gives a lot of confidence to his team-mates. I've never raced that late in the year. I've never had so many kilometres in my legs in the same season. I can't wait to go home but I'll go home happy because I came with the ambition of making the top 10, maybe the top 5 if I was being lucky, so to win here is beyond expectations."
On the strategy for the race, he said: "Our plan was to arrive fresh for the last climb. We knew before the start we had two climbers here, Nibali and me. If I had a good day, I could be also there. Nibali had told me that I'd have a chance but I also needed to have the legs to do that. Nicolas Roche was a bit more tired than I was. I was afraid of the headwind in the finale but luckily, the wind direction changed and there was nothing to stop me."
Green Jersey holder Mark Cavendish said: "As a team, we had another good ride. Meksem Debesay has been riding at the front these last two days and he was able to compete with the best climbers uphill. I'm happy to keep the green jersey and I hope to retain it tomorrow as well." Julien Bernard is 'delighted' to get the white Jersey.
"I usually manage to maintain a good level of fitness until the very end of the season, with not putting on weight or losing motivation, so the team decided to send me here, firstly to help Giacomo Nizzolo in the sprints, secondly to play my own cards on this climb. That's what we did."
Jens Keukeleire said he was happy with another day in the black jersey. "After two stages in the breakaway, I took an easy day. I didn't really want to go away again. I had a look at who was making a move and it was ok for me to keep the black jersey".
The final stage is on Yas Island with 26 laps on the Yas Marina Circuit. - email@example.com