UAE Tour: Stage 4

Sam Bennett was the clear winner on Wednesday afternoon, capturing his first victory of the year after showing a clean pair of wheels to his opponents

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UAE Tour: Stage 4

Sam Bennett was the clear winner on Wednesday afternoon, capturing his first victory of the year after showing a clean pair of wheels to his opponents at the end of the longest stage of the UAE Tour, which started and concluded on the Al Marjan Island, lasting 204 kilometres and almost five hours in the saddle.

Photo ©Tim De Waele/Getty Images

For the 30-year-old Irishman it was the first bunch sprint of the season, and the Tour de France green jersey winner benefitted from a perfectly executed lead-out train to navigate what turned out to be a chaotic finale. Piloted by Michael Mørkøv, who used his vast experience to bring him in position with 200 meters to go, Sam took the left side of the road and burst clear of the field, rolling across the line with a comfortable gap on the riders rounding out the podium.

“I was a little frustrated missing the sprint on the first stage and I knew there were only three more opportunities, so I was really motivated today. At the same time, I was pretty nervous, because it was the first bunch sprint of the season for myself and you never know what’s your condition coming out of the winter”, Sam explained shortly after his first win in two years at the UAE Tour.

The victory he got on stage 4 marked a significant milestone for Bennett, who now has 50 wins in the pro ranks, a number which puts him behind only Sean Kelly on a list of the most successful Irish riders in history. “Having the team do such a great job you just want to bring the victory. I knew all I had to do was follow the guys, who made my job easier, and with my legs good in the end I was able to do the sprint I wanted. It was a messy finale, but I made it thanks to this amazing Wolfpack, who controlled the stage and then delivered me in the perfect position! I am proud to score my 50th victory here! It was a long, hot stage, but it now feels great to get the first bunch sprint of the year out of the way. It’s a perfect way to start the season”, Sam added.

Deceuninck – Quick-Step teammate João Almeida enjoyed a quieter day and remained on the UAE Tour overall podium ahead of Jebel Jais, the race’s last mountain test.

Caleb Ewan: “We were in a pretty good position at the left side of the road, but at 1.3 km to go, we had to pull the brakes and lost some places. Jasper De Buyst still brought me back but it was quite a big effort to return to the front. Eventually, I got myself into a pretty good spot, but in the end, that effort I had to do before took some crucial energy away and I couldn’t use that punch I needed to win the sprint. It’s a little disappointing, but there are a few more opportunities to come.”

David Dekker: “Initially, the plan at Jumbo-Visma was to help Chris Harper, fourth in the overall standings”, Dekker said after the stage. “The start was nervous, because the wind can always cause danger here. When this turned out to be better than expected, the rest of the ride was relaxed until the last ten kilometres. The loss of Jos van Emden was of course a loss, but luckily Christoph Pfingsten was tops today. After the finish I was quite frustrated, because I felt there was more in it ”, said the 23-year-old neo-pro.

Matteo Moschetti (5th): “It was a very complicated sprint to manage. In the last kilometers, it was like being in a washing machine with all the shuffling and confusion there was in the front. The fight for positions was a very tight battle. I’m now looking at the sprint and I think I did the best I could. Unfortunately, I started too far back and I couldn’t find the space to come back. If I would have found the right opening in the last meters, I could have closed the stage with an even better result. I had enough legs and power to achieve something more and this is comforting. On paper, there are still two opportunities where I can play it, and I am looking forward to these.”

Pascal Ackermann: “Today we managed to stay all together at the front of the bunch quite well, but maybe a little early as we invested a lot of energy there. With one kilometer to go only Martin was with me anymore and he decided to hit the front. He did a great job, but when I felt the speed comes down a little, I gave it a go and launched my sprint. Then, the line was a little too far today and, in the end, I didn’t make it. But my legs are good, so let’s see what’s possible in the next sprints here. ” –

Cees Bol: “It was a fast finale like we expected,” explained Bol at the finish. “It wasn’t the perfect textbook lead out but I got a lot of help from the guys to get in the right position so that was good. Maybe we were a little bit early on the front, but I just didn’t have the power needed to win today. It’s a good starting point for our first sprint of the season. We have some things to work on for sure, but we also showed some good teamwork.”

Kaden Groves: “The boys did a really good job today. We had the plan for me and Luka Mezgec to do our thing. All in all for the first sprint of the season I think I can be fairly happy and we will keep fighting in the next days.”

1. Sam Bennett Deceuninck-Quick Step 04:51:51
2. David Dekker Jumbo-Visma
3. Caleb Ewan Lotto Soudal
4. Elia Viviani Cofidis
5. Matteo Moschetti Trek-Segafredo
6. Pascal Ackermann BORA-hansgrohe
7. Phil Bauhaus Bahrain Victorious
8. Giacomo Nizzolo Qhubeka ASSOS
9. Fernando Gaviria UAE Team Emirates
10. Kaden Groves Team BikeExchange

22. Chris Froome
28. Adam Yates
89. Mark Donovan
97. Luke Rowe
103. Fred Wright
112. Alex Dowsett
130. Harry Tanfield

1. Tadej Pogacar UAE Team Emirates 12:50:21
2. Adam Yates INEOS Grenadiers @ 43
3. Joao Almeida Deceuninck-Quick Step @ 01:03
4. Chris Harper Jumbo-Visma @ 01:43
5. Neilson Powless EF Education-NIPPO @ 01:45
6. Mattias Skjelmose Jensen Trek-Segafredo @ 02:36
7. Mattia Cattaneo Deceuninck-Quick Step @ 02:38
8. Damiano Caruso Bahrain Victorious @ 02:38
9. Ruben Fernandez Cofidis @ 03:32
10. Fausto Masnada Deceuninck-Quick Step @ 04:47

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