Amber Kraak made the impossible possible on the final stage of the 2024 UAE Tour Women and upset the sprinters on what was expected to be a bunchsprint finish at Abu Dhabi Breakwater. The Dutchwoman from FDJ – Suez won just a few meters ahead of Lorena Wiebes (SD Worx – Protime) and Daria Pikulik (Human Powered Health), who gave their all on the finishing straight, but just could not catch the last remaining breakaway rider anymore.
“In the radio I heard my teammates shout ‘go, go, go!’, so I understood it was really tight and I didn’t dare to look back. This is my first solo victory in the WorldTour. I’m not really used to that, but next time I will maybe celebrate with my arms up in the air”, Kraak laughed in the first interview after her biggest victory, which came already in the first race with her new team FDJ – Suez, and just after a weak day on Jebel Hafeet.
“Yesterday I was supposed to go full gas on the climb and it didn’t really work out. I didn’t have a good day so it’s a really great feeling to make it up the day after”, Kraak added.
Whilst the 29 year old, who only became a professional cyclist three years ago and was a under-23 World Champion at rowing in 2016, won the fourth and final stage, Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx – Protime) sealed her overall victory. The Road World Champion rolled over the finish line in 32nd place and won the second edition of the UAE Tour Women with an advantage of 13 seconds over Neve Bradbury (Canyon – SRAM) and 44 seconds ahead of Mavi Garcia (Liv – AlUla – Jayco).
Besides the Red Jersey as overall winner, Kopecky also took home the Black Jersey as best rider at the intermediate sprints. Wiebes won the Green Jersey for the points classification and Bradbury was the best young rider and took the White Jersey home. The 21 year old Australian, who already finished third at the Tour Down Under in January, also conquered the lead in the Women’s WorldTour rankings and the WWT Young Rider classification. Together with her team Canyon//SRAM Racing Bradbury also won the team classification in the United Arabic Emirates.
How it unfolded:
Stage winner Kraak was part of the breakaway of the day, which formed after 13 kilometers of the 105 km stage, initiated by Sophie Wright (Fenix – Deceuninck). The Brit was joined by her compatriot Monica Greenwood (Coop – Hitec Products) and Margarita Misyurina (Tashkent City Team) from Uzbekistan, before Kraak also bridged across. With the four of them they build a lead of 45 seconds and kept that until the first intermediate sprint after 29 kilometers next to the Yas Marina Circuit Formula 1 race track. Greenwood won the sprint against Wright there and the quartet increased their lead afterwards to a maximum of 3’15.
Then SD Worx – Protime started to take their responsibility as team of the overall leader Kopecky and hot favourite for a sprint finish, Wiebes. Femke Gerritse and Femke Markus brought the gap down to two minutes with 30 kilometers to go, when Greenwood also won the second intermediate sprint. But after that, the breakaway strongly resisted against the chase, holding these two minutes until 15 kilometers to go.
Misyurina had to let go at the front with cramps now, but it needed the help of UAE Team ADQ in the peloton to bring the advantage of the remaining leaders further down. With 6.5 kilometers left to race, Kraak then started to attack her breakaway companions and on the last five kilometers she was all alone at the front of the race – with a gap of 40 seconds to the main bunch.
Within the final four kilometres also dsm-firmenich – PostNL and Uno-X Mobility joined the chase, but the gap to Kraak did not melt down fast enough. Carina Schrempf (Fenix – Deceuninck) tried to bridge to her with a strong attack just before the final kilometer, but the Austrian Champion was reiled back in soon, whilst Kraak still resisted and gave her all until the finish line to win.