By David Hunter
Dubai – Fujairah 180km
Seconds out, round 3.
Yes, it does have a few hills, but these are more like little bumps in the road. This will be another big sprint.
The easiest finish of the week. There will be a rush for positions for the turn at 3km, but even if not in the best position, you still have time to make up positions. The final obstacle is a roundabout with 2km remaining, then it’s full gas for the finishing line.
Another lovely day for the bunch. We head through the desert and there is some wind. Now, the wind isn’t that strong, but as the riders head north across the desert there is a possibility for some echelons. A long run for home will probably mean we see no action.
Sprint Train Update
Katusha – awful.
Trek – marginally better.
UAE – inconsistent due to the short train.
Astana – doing surprisingly well.
Dimension Data – improving.
Jumbo – doing great with a short train.
QuickStep – awesome.
Elia Viviani – took a win on his birthday and very well deserved too. We’ve had two stages of great work from QuickStep and their sprinter, it just shows you what happens when a team believes in you. As this finish is straightforward, their dominance could well be challenged in this stage. Their men in positions 3 and 4 are not as quick as some of their rivals, this will mean that it will be a struggle to lead the bunch in the final kilometre. Despite that, Viviani clearly has the speed to win, even if he has to come from deep.
Dylan Groenewegen – just like Viviani, he’s had two great stages. Coming from a little deep, he was close to winning today. Jumbo are putting their faith in a shorter train and it’s working well so far. The Dutchman is sprinting very well just now and he seems to have added a little top end speed over the winter.
Mark Cavendish – both Cav and Dimension Data seem to be improving, this will be a worry to the other sprinters. Once Cavendish gets going he’ll be hard to beat. Dimension Data have decided to not get involved in chasing the break, this means they can save their whole squad for the final 10km. The long straight should be great news for Vermote, Eisel and Renshaw.
Riccardo Minali – I really didn’t expect Astana to make the podium in the opening stages. The team are doing a great job in the closing kilometres and both their sprinters are going close. The problem is that neither has the same speed as some of the other sprinters, making it very difficult to take a win. Another podium should be seen as a huge success.
Marcel Kittel – what a horrible start to his Katusha career. The sprint train are constantly looking over their shoulders to see where Kittel is. In his QuickStep days, his train helped mask some of his issues, but they are clear to see in Dubai. The German is not the best in corners and can lose position too easy. Haller and Zabel do not possess the speed to carry him up the bunch in the final kilometre, but this stage should be easier for him. The non-technical finish is brilliant for Kittel and Katusha, all they need to do is stick together and choose a side of the road. There is no need for fancy tactics!
Has to be Marcel Kittel. If he can’t win this stage, the season will start to look very long.
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