Tour of Dubai: Stage 3

Cavendish wins stage 3 in tight battle with Bouhanni and Kittel, whilst a penalty to Groenewegen sees Viviani take the overall lead

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Tour of Dubai: Stage 3

There was a win for Mark Cavendish on stage 3 of the Dubai Tour whilst Elia Viviani will head into Friday’s queen-stage at the top of the general classification, with a four-second buffer over Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data).

Photo: @dubaitour

The stage was no stroll in the park, as immediately after the feedzone, crosswinds wreaked havoc. Quick-Step Floors were one of the teams to take advantage of the conditions and split the peloton to pieces; among the riders dropped was also Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo), due to a mechanical; the Dutchman, leader of the GC, eventually returned to the bunch after drafting behind the car, and for that reason he was handed a 20-second penalty.

When the wind changed direction again, things eased off, allowing the riders who initially had been distanced to come back. Tim Declercq then moved to the front and put in some monster pulls, lining out the peloton and bringing back to heel a late move of Tom Bohli (BMC), who all that could do was open a 15-second gap before being overhauled by the Belgian.
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2014 Paris-Roubaix winner Niki Terpstra made use of his experience to assemble the Quick-Step Floors train with five kilometers to go, whilst Alex Dowsett was pulling some big turns for Kittel and Katusha. Elia Viviani was in a good position as the run-in loomed at the horizon and the 29-year-old was the first to kick out in Fujairah, and despite missing out on the win, he looked at the bright side of things after this penultimate stage for the sprinters.

“The team did a perfect job once again. After the feedzone, we tried something in the crosswinds, splitting the field, but ten kilometers later it turned into a tailwind, so we decided to focus on the bunch sprint from that moment on. I accelerated early, with 200 meters to go, which probably was a mistake with the headwind we had, but I was worried that someone would come from behind. In the last 50 meters I lost speed and didn’t take any bonus seconds, which could have been important in the final outcome of the race.”

Stage winner, Mark Cavendish: “I had good feelings today, especially after yesterday, I knew it was there, I knew the team were there, and the team delivered me there, it was a difficult finish with the wind, and I just thought I can’t really beat Viviani in a drag strip race, so I had to use the jump, so I waited, waited late to go today so I could use my jump and that’ll get the speed and the tight advantage. The team were really good in the final and obviously I am happy to win here in Dubai.”

“To win a stage at this time of the season doesn’t matter, but it is important to have a win, I knew I had good form from training at home over the winter and I just wanted to open my account, it is always important to open your account and so already with this win, I have won the same amount of races as I won in the whole of last year.”

“The thing I am most disappointed about is I stopped pedalling yesterday when I couldn’t win and if I had of kept going and got second, which I normally would, I would have the time bonuses and I’d be in the jersey today, and that’s my own fault, and I’ve let myself down, and my team down so it is a shame about that but we’ll see about getting the jersey in the next days”.

Marcel Kittel: “Today has been the best of all the stages” Marcel said afterwards. “I am personally very happy with it, I was able to show my speed again, and I was really close to getting that victory and everyone in the team was super motivated and did a super good job”.

“I think it is something to be proud of. It is not a victory, a third place, but a veru good step forward and tomorrow we have another stage and the last one is sure to be a sprint so we move forward.”

“Yesterday, I finish the race with an agry feeling and today with a happy feeling, everyone in the team did and that is very important. We now concentrate to develop our train and finding a way of working together which goes very well so far”.

Adam Blythe: Today went well, bit of a windy sprint – headwind, so trying to make the most of jumping from train to train. Would have been nice to have started my sprint earlier but that’s racing. I’m happy with fourth and looking forward to the next few days.”

Penalty for Groenewegen
The time penalty was imposed on him because he was brought back to the peloton after a bike change behind the team car. That change happened exactly at the wrong time, according to sports director Jan Boven. “Right at the moment when echelons were forming we had to give Dylan a new bike. Moreover, that didn’t go completely smoothly.” Groenewegen had to get back to the peloton and did so by staying out of the wind behind the team car. “That’s our mistake and we are being punished for that by a time penalty”, said Jan Boven, who, as a sports director regretted the events. Because of the penalty, Groenewegen has dropped from the top ten to the 42nd place.

Magnus Cort: The final sprint was a hectic one with crosswinds coming in on the right side during the final three kilometres. The team did a good job with Truls Korsaeth as the lead out for Riccardo Minali and myself. We were fighting hard and both of us had good legs, so it’s a little bit frustrating we didn’t get a better result, – told Magnus Cort after the stage.
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Jacob Hennessy – 13th on the day: “Today was a pretty steep learning curve for us as a team, we had something of everything, strong winds, echelons, no slowing down for the feed zone and to be honest it will be good for us because it also teaches the importance of staying together within the race and working as a unit.”
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“I was caught quite far behind in the sprint and chose the wrong wheels this time, because I chose guys who had been up there the last couple of days, but who weren’t in the mix this time around. We’re still in a good place though and we are looking forward to the climbs tomorrow.”

Friday, the peloton will travel to Hatta Dam, for a punchy finish which could reshuffle the general classification led by Elia Viviani. Even though he acknowledges that the small climb, which includes a 17% section, is not suited to sprinters, the Italian is confident he can put in a solid display: “I am happy with the work of my teammates, they are really great. I’m not happy with the result, but as I said, defeats motivate me a lot and I’ll soon have another opportunity to show that. Tomorrow a hard finish awaits and I will try to defend the lead. If I’ll be in a good position when the road kicks up, then there’s a chance I will do it.”

1. Mark Cavendish
2. Nacer Bouhanni
3. Marcel Kittel
4. Adam Blythe
5. Sonny Colbrelli
6. Elia Viviani

13. Jacob Hennessy
21. Andy Fenn
73. Mark Christian
101. Dan Pearson
102. Alex Dowsett

1. Elia Viviani
2. Mark Cavendish
3. Van Hooydonck

11. Adam Blythe
12. Jacob Hennessy



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