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For a four-time Tour de France winner, simply completing a stage of a weeklong race in February wouldn’t normally be news—but Chris Froome’s 115th-place finish on the opening day of the UAE Tour was a big deal. The sprint stage in Dubai marked Froome’s first bona fide racing appearance (we’re not counting an exhibition team time trial at the Saitama Criteirum) since June of 2019.
Eight months since his crash during a recon of the Critérium du Dauphiné time trial, Froome was understandably elated to have finished comfortably in the UAE Tour peloton, telling media in his first post-race interview of the season, “It feels good to be a bike racer again.”
A pack finish on a sprint stage at the UAE Tour is a long way off from reaching Tour-winning form, course, but Froome and Froome fans will be encouraged by his showing in his 2020 racing debut.
Until next time, readers!
| Froome returns, Ackermann wins in UAE Tour opener
The UAE Tour got underway with a sprinter-friendly opening stage on Sunday in Dubai, and it was Pascal Ackermann who proved fastest on the day from the top-flight sprinting field in the one-week WorldTour race.
The German started his sprint early in the finale in Dubai and held off Caleb Ewan to nab the victory, with Rudy Barbier in third.
A few moments later, Chris Froome rolled across the line with the peloton to finish his first bona fide race day since June of last year.
“Still a way to go until I’m back to where I left off but the first feelings are really good,” the 34-year-old told media at the finish some eight months after the crash that derailed his 2019 season. “It felt good to have a race number on and have the elbows out again, fighting for position in the bunch.”
| Evenepoel stays on a roll with Algarve victory
Remco Evenepoel is two for two in stage races so far this year. Less than a month after he took the overall win at the Vuelta a San Juan, the 20-year-old rising star won the Volta ao Algarve with an impressive showing ahead of some big names.
Already leading the race, Evenepoel put an exclamation point on his performance with a win over Rohan Dennis and Stefan Küng in the stage 5 time trial. Evenepoel stood atop the final GC podium with Maximilian Schachmann in second and Miguel Ángel López in third.
| Fuglsang defends Ruta del Sol title
Jakob Fuglsang wrapped up his second straight Ruta del Sol title on Sunday in Spain.
After taking the lead in the opening stage and picking up more time with another victory on stage 3, Fuglsang rode to a narrow second place in the final stage time trial to seal a convincing overall victory. Dylan Teuns won the TT, with Alex Edmondson behind Fuglsang in third.
Stage 4 winner Jack Haig finished second to Fuglsang in the overall standings with Mikel Landa in third.
| Van der Breggen wins Setmana Ciclista Valenciana overall
The four-day Setmana Ciclista Valenciana marked Anna van der Breggen’s 2020 racing debut, and when the race concluded on Sunday, the Dutchwoman already had two victories in the books. Van der Breggen took her first win of the season on Friday’s stage 2 and then held onto the lead she grabbed there to wrap up the overall title on the fourth and final stage.
Clara Koppenburg and Demi Vollering rounded out the GC podium, while Leah Thomas bested Katie Hall and Mavi Garcia to win stage 4.
| Quintana cruises to Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var win
Nairo Quintana is off to a great start in 2020. After winning the Tour de La Provence a week ago, he delivered an encore this weekend, taking overall honors at the Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var (formerly, the Tour du Haut Var).
Quintana took the lead with a stage 2 victory and defended it as Julien Bernard took the third and final stage. Romain Bardet and Richie Porte rounded out the final GC podium.
Today’s feature image of Pascal Ackermann winning stage 1 of the UAE Tour comes from Cor Vos.