Abu Dhabi Tour #3: Not the best of days for Kudus

Rui Costa (UAE Abu Dhabi) won the 3rd stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour, beating Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) in a 2-man sprint at the summit of the of Jebel Hafeet. Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) was the rider in 3rd position.

The 3rd stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour was the one for the main GC contenders as the stage ended with the 10km climb to the top of Jebel Hafeet. A total of 176km had to be completed before the base of the climb was reached and the warm and windy conditions made it a tough day in the office. The wind was so intense that with 80km to go, the organisation momentarily neutralised the race.

Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka was looking after the interests of Merhawi Kudus today and the whole team rallied around the young Eritrean, keeping him out of the wind all stage. As the race reached the base of the climb, our African Team lead the way onto the lower slopes with Reinardt Janse van Rensburg being our final rider to tend to Kudus’ needs.

With 9km to go, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) attacked and Janse van Rensburg responded immediately, followed by Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) and Kudus. Our South African champion was putting in a gutsy performance to keep the race together for Kudus as best he could. Just inside on 7km to go and his job was done but Kudus was also in difficulty now.

Costa attacked and was followed by Zakarin while the rest of the favourites all looked at Contador and Quintana. A series of attacks then followed and this saw the race split all over the climb. Kudus unfortunately, was not on his best of days after a fast start to the climb. With the inconsistent surging and slowing down by the main group, Costa and Zakarin would not be caught and went on to decide the stage. Kudus finished in 46th place and 2’28” down on Costa. Mark Cavendish remained leader in the green jersey points competition heading into tomorrow’s final stage.

Merhawi Kudus – Rider
Today was okay, it was a hard stage and from the start there was wind. It was crosswind and tailwind so that made the bunch a bit nervous but I had good support from the team. They were really amazing in the way they supported me all the way to the climb. I didn’t really have the legs like last week but I went full gas with Contador and Quintana. Reinie also went full gas and I just exploded, I couldn’t hold the peloton. I later came back to the second group but it was not a good day for me. It was a hard stage so it was not too bad.