The 3rd stage of the Dubai Tour would not go the way of Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka with a late mechanical putting an end to our hopes today. Juan Jose Lobato (Movistar) would triumph, Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) was 2nd- also pulling on the race leaders jersey, with Silvain Dillier (BMC) 3rd on the stage.
It would be a long haul toward the foot of the Hatta Dam, where there would be a showdown on the much talked about 18% grade climb. 6 riders tried their hand at a long breakaway but it certainly wasn’t going to be their day with Team Sky keeping the gap around the minute mark all stage.
With 10km to go the break were caught, and a few attacks then came from the peloton. Natnael Berhane, our Eritrean champion got involved and put a few meters between himself and the peloton in following a few dangerous moves. It was also at this point where disaster struck our African Team as Mark Cavendish suffered from a mechanical which would put an end to his stage and GC hopes.
With Movistar setting a really high tempo on the way to Hatta Dam, all the late attackers were caught and there was also no way Cav would make it back to the front group as the race had split into pieces over the closing kilometers. Going into the final kilometer, when the road ramped skyward, it was Lobato who timed his effort best to take the win. Natu was our top placed rider on the day, coming home 37 seconds down on Lobato in 28th place. Things would have been better for the Eritrean champ had he not dropped his chain with 120m to go while inside the top 10.
Natnael Berhane – Rider
It wasn’t the best stage for us today. We try to look after Cavendish but in the final he had a flat wheel at a bad time. I was trying to follow some moves in the small climbs and used some energy. When I came back to the group Cav was not there so I had to try for the final as well but I had no more legs for the final climb. I started the climb maybe in 8th position, but my chain dropped 120m from the line. I wasn’t going to win but a top 10 for sure without the dropped chain. Tomorrow we will go full gas for the stage win with Cav.