That was exciting!
For a while it looked as if the peloton had misjudged the catch of the breakaway but the dreams of McNulty taking the race lead turned to heartbreak as he was swallowed up on the Hatta Dam climb itself.
Colbrelli shot out of the pack; beating a fast finishing Cort Nielsen into second who himself just edged out a surprisingly good Roosen who came home in third.
However, the time gaps were not as big as expected and the first 13 riders across the line were granted the same time. Consequently, that means Viviani still holds the lead going into the final day with Cort Nielsen 2 seconds back and Colbrelli 4 in arrears. Bouhanni is realistically the only other rider who can challenge as he is 8 seconds back but there are a few others within striker distance if something crazy happens.
Let’s take a look at what is in store for them.
The organisers have left the most technical of finishes this week until the final stage. Although saying that, we’re in Dubai so it isn’t that bad!
It will be interesting to see if the break survives for both of the intermediate sprints as the bonus seconds could be vital in the end for GC.
The main challenge the teams will face is two right-hand turn in the closing kilometres.
It is the exact same finish that we had last year so the riders should know what to expect. The first turn at 1.2km to go sees the road narrow down through the corner itself, before opening back up into several lanes again. However, the pace should be on at this point and I’d be surprised to see the peloton more than three riders wide.
From there, it is a sprint to the final right hand turn with roughly 400m to go.
Having a lead-out man in front of the sprinter is crucial so that they can push on and not leave the sprinter at the head of the peloton too early. That is kind of what happened last year and there was a bit of a stall as the guys at the front didn’t want to open up their effort too far out.
A strong train can certainly dominate this finale but they have to be careful of teams dive-bombing the closing 750m.
I think we’ve seen almost every sprinter here have some kind of reasonable run at the finish on the few stages they’ve had so far. The sprints themselves have been chaotic and different riders have looked strong/weak depending on the day and their luck with getting a clean sprint.
Tomorrow’s stage looks like the one that can be controlled well with the peloton naturally being strung out throw the turns. Yet, with the amount of sprinters interested then it could well become chaotic again.
So without wanting to repeat and rehash what I have written on the first 3 days, I’m just going to skip the rest of the broad sprinter overview out.
I’ll give Kristoff another chance tomorrow.
He’s looked good throughout the race but he’s one of the riders who I think hasn’t managed to sprint at 100% yet; there has always been something hindering him. His performance on the Dam today was very impressive considering that he is one of the heavier sprinters here so the early season form is definitely there. Ganna and Consonni will have to arrive late with him and drop him on the wheel of the best lead-out (probably QS) but he certainly has every chance. One thing that might work in his favour is that he won’t be concerned with going for any intermediate sprint points as it is very unlikely he would win GC.
A stinker of a week so far but Viviani currently leads the GC which might salvage it and make it just a poor week. Unless of course big Alex steps up…
1pt EW Kristoff @ 28/1 (would take 20)
Also, Bet365 are offering a cash out on Viviani for 12pts off of the 3pts stake which I am tempted to take but that’s not my style. All or nothing!
Can’t wait for it to all go up in smoke tomorrow!
Thanks as always for reading! Apologies this is shorter than normal but I don’t think I’d enjoy writing a repeat run-down of the same sprinters and I’m sure you wouldn’t enjoy reading it. I might have an Il Laigueglia preview out tomorrow but don’t hold me to that. If not, I’ll be back with either Algarve or Andalucia, or maybe both. Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.