A fantastic performance by the team and a great sprint of the German meant double joy for Etixx – Quick-Step at the end of the last stage.
Marcel Kittel was a man on a mission on Saturday. Starting the fourth and final day of the Dubai Tour only 6 seconds behind overall leader Giacomo Nizzolo, the 27-year-old rider of Etixx – Quick-Step knew everything was still possible at the finish, where the victory and 10 potentially decisive bonus seconds were on the line. That's why his teammates came to the front inside the last 30 kilometers and took control of the bunch, in order to catch the six riders in the breakaway: Mark Christian (Team Wiggins), Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), Roy Curvers (Giant-Alpecin), Sebastian Lander (One Pro Cycling), Jan Polanc (Lampre-Merida) and Daniel Teklehaimanot (Dimension Data).
Inside the final 5 kilometers, it all came down to a duel between Etixx – Quick-Step and Trek Factory-Segafredo for the best line, and thanks to the excellent work of his teammates, Marcel Kittel entered third in the last corner, before opening the sprint with his trademark acceleration and getting the stage victory – his second of the week and fifth in the race – ahead of Elia Viviani (Sky) and Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data).
"In the morning, at the technical meeting, we said it's going to be all or nothing and that we're going to focus only on the final sprint. During the stage, we stayed calm and moved to the front at the right moment. The key in the Dubai Tour is to have a strong team all the time, and I had one, which gave 100% for me. I was in an ideal position coming to the line and didn't think at all of my opponents, just focused on doing things right. Now I'm very happy, and I'm taking a lot of confidence out of this success", said the German, who credited his strong ride on the Hatta Dam climb as being decisive in the final outcome: "That was the most important day of the race. It was a very hard ascent, with a 17% gradient, but I was in form and wanted to show what I can do on such a tough finish."
The bonus seconds he grabbed at the Burj Khalifa finish meant that Marcel also won the general classification of the Dubai Tour, as well as the red jersey, which rewards the best rider in the points standings, and will now leave the Middle East with three victories in the bag: "It's really awesome, it gives you a fantastic feeling to cap off the week like that. We trained a lot for the Dubai Tour in the winter and we were fully committed, not only because it was my first race of the season, but also because it was an opportunity to see how the train and the lead-out work. I'm more than satisfied with the way things went and I think we can all be proud. Now I'm even more motivated, and I can't wait for the next races to come."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele