On the toughest stage of this year's Dubai Tour, the Etixx – Quick-Step rider showed his power and determination, and now lies 3rd in the general classification.
The third day of the race featured a long escape led by Francisco Mancebo (Skydive Dubai), who was joined by five riders: Chun Kai Feng (Lampre-Merida), David Lozano Riba (Novo Nordisk), Andrew Tennant (Team Wiggins), Hayden McCormick (One Pro Cycling) and Essaid Abelouache (Al Nasr). With the Hatta Dam finish in the last 200 meters, it was pretty clear that the peloton won't give them green light to go all the way, so the break was caught with 12 kilometers before the finish. As the race heated up, Laurens De Vreese (Astana), Lieuwe Westra (Astana) and Ben Swift (Sky) attacked on a fast descent and managed to get 10 seconds in hand, but the main group came back strong, riding at a crazy speed in the run-in to the finale.
On the double-digit gruesome climb of Hatta Dam, Juan Jose Lobato (Movistar) made his move and powered away from a severely reduced peloton, taking the victory with a 2-second gap over Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek Factory-Segafredo) and Silvan Dillier (BMC). Thanks to the excellent job of his teammates, who rode hard at the front in the last 15 kilometers and made sure of getting him in a good position, Marcel Kittel crossed the line in 6th place, just 4 seconds off the pace. Victorious in stage 1, the 27-year-old rider of Etixx – Quick-Step proved once again his condition and strong motivation in this start of the season, and remains in the cards to win the third edition of the race.
"As we didn't have to defend the blue jersey, we took a more relaxed approach throughout the day and stayed more in the background, in order to save as much energy as possible. Our focus was on the finish, to make it into the front for the uphill sprint. Things went really well, we worked as a team, and I'm quite happy with my result. Everything is still possible tomorrow and we are very motivated to give it all", said the German after the penultimate stage.
Marcel Kittel now lies third in the general classification, just 6 seconds behind Giacolo Nizzolo, the new leader of the Dubai Tour. The last day of the Middle East event (Dubai – Burj Khalifa, 137 kilometers) is going to be a flat one, in which the sprinters will fight for the bonus seconds that will decide the overall winner.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele