Britain’s Adam Yates came second on his debut for Ineos Grenadiers at the UAE Tour, despite crashing heavily.
Yates finished 35 seconds overall behind winner Tadej Pogacar after rivals slowed up to allow the 28-year-old to be treated for cuts to his face.
There appeared to be a tangle between the Ineos riders in the peloton with about 40km to go on Saturday and Yates landed face down.
Lotto-Soudal’s Caleb Ewan won the final stage after a bunch sprint.
What happened to Yates?
The collision happened on a straight stretch of road and Yates hit his face hard as some of his domestiques and riders from other teams fell around him. Pogacar, the 2020 Tour de France winner, had to take evasive action.
Ineos’ Daniel Martinez had to abandon the race before the end of the stage.
Yates was checked over by Ineos’ team doctor, Derick Macleod, on the road before getting back on the bike and continuing while having cuts dressed by the race medical car.
He has been taken to hospital for further checks, but the team say he does not appear to have suffered any injuries other than “facial abrasions”.
There have been questions about how the sport deals with head injuries and potential concussions in the wake of serious incidents in all three Grand Tours last year.
In one instance, France’s Romain Bardet was allowed to finish stage 13 of the Tour de France despite suffering a brain haemorrhage after a crash in which he collapsed trying to get back to his feet.
Cycling’s governing body, the UCI, introduced new safety measures this year, including protocols to help ensure riders with possible concussions are dealt with adequately.
An eventful race full of big names
Yates battled with UAE-Team Emirates’ Pogacar during the seven-day race, but was unlikely to overhaul the deficit on Saturday’s flat 147km final stage from Yas Mall to Abu Dhabi Breakwater.
Before the crash, Yates and his British team tried to pull ahead of Pogacar by splitting the peloton in crosswinds on the open desert land, but his rivals were wise to the move and the group eventually bunched back together.
Pogacar took the lead after Monday’s time trial when the winner of stage one, Mathieu van der Poel, left the race after a staff member on his Alpecin-Fenix team tested positive for coronavirus.
Pogacar held the overall general classification after a tussle on Tuesday with Yates up to Jebel Hafeet, and stayed firm against the Briton on Thursday’s ‘queen stage’ to Jebel Jais, which has the highest mountains for overall contenders to claim the most time over their rivals.
However, the 22-year-old Slovenian was penalised 10 seconds on Friday, along with team-mate Jan Polanc, for pushing.
Four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome finished 47th overall for his new team Israel Start-Up Nation, 22 minutes adrift.
The 35-year-old is still recovering from multiple fractures sustained during his 2019 crash at the Criterium du Dauphine.
Froome said: “Hopefully things are coming together, but I definitely need more of these races behind me.”
Meanwhile, Britain’s Jake Stewart came second in the first major cobbled Classic one-day race of the season, the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
Stewart – at 21 in his first full season as a professional for the French Groupama-FDJ team – powered past several of the favourites as the race ended in a rare sprint finish.
Stewart’s season has begun with great promise after he finished an unexpected fourth in the recent Etoile de Besseges.
The 200km Het Nieuwsblad event in Belgium, won by Deceuninck-Quick Step’s Davide Ballerini, saw Ineos Grenadiers struggle after Ethan Hayter crashed with 1.5km to go.
And in France, Britain’s Hugh Carthy finished third in the one-day Faun Ardeche Classic for EF Education-Nippo – the same position the Preston rider finished in last year’s Grand Tour race, the Vuelta a Espana.
France’s David Gaudu won for Groupama-FDJ.
UAE Tour stage 7 result:
1. Caleb Ewan (Aus/Lotto-Soudal) 3hrs 18mins 29secs
2. Sam Bennett (Ire/Deceuninck-Quick Step) same time
3. Phil Bauhaus (Ger/Bahrain-Victorious)
4. Michael Morkov (Den/Deceuninck-Quick Step)
5. Cees Bol (Ned/DSM)
6. Andre Griepel (Ger/Israel Start-Up Nation)
7. Andrea Vendrame (Ita/AG2R-Citroen)
8. Luka Mezgec (Slo/Team Bike Exchange)
9. Ricardo Minali (Ita/Intermarche-Wanty)
10. Yevgeniy Gidich (Kaz/Astana-Premier Tech)
1. Tadej Pogacar (Slo/UAE-Team Emirates) 24hrs 00mins 28secs
2. Adam Yates (GB/Ineos Grenadiers) +35secs
3. Joao Almeida (Por/Deceuninck-Quick Step) +1min 02secs
4. Chris Harper (Aus/Jumbo-Visma) +1min 42secs
5. Neilson Powless (USA/EF Education-Nippo) +1min 45secs
6. Mattias Jenson Skjelmose (Den/TRek-Segafredo) +2mins 37secs
7. Damiano Caruso (Ita/Bahrain-Victorious) +2mins 39secs
8. Mattia Catteno (Ita/Deceuninck – Quick Step) +3min 53secs
9. Ruben Fernandez (Spa/Cofidis) +4mins 13secs
10. Fausto Masnada (Ita/Deceuninck-Quick Step) +6mins 30secs
47. Chris Froome (GB/Israel Start-Up Nation) +22mins
48. Mark Donovan (GB/Team DSM) +22mins 0secs
125. Harry Tanfield (GB/Team Qhubeka-Assos) +1hr 6min 4secs