Dubai Tour #4: Hatta Dam shakes up the GC battle

Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) won the brutal uphill sprint finish of stage 4 at the Dubai Tour. Magnus Cort Nielsen (Team Astana) was the 2nd rider to top of Hatta Dam with Timo Roosen (LottoNL-Jumbo) placing 3rd.

The 4th stage of the Dubai Tour, touted as the Queen stage of the race, finished up the familiar ramp to Hatta Dam. 172km needed to be completed first before reaching the final climb to the line though. The early part of the stage saw 6 riders jump clear and they were able to gain a lead of 7-minutes before the peloton reacted in earnest.

It was the Quickstep team together with our South African, Jay Thomson, who controlled the pace from the peloton. With 40km to go, the break lost 3 riders as we reached the hills before heading into Hatta. Brandon Mcnulty (Rally Cycling) was riding extremely well in the break and would eventually go solo in front. The former junior world time trial champion really put the pressure on the peloton as he was reluctant to give up any of his advantage.

With 10km to go the American still had a 1’20” lead despite a concerted chase effort, where our African Team also had Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier contributing. The group had been whittled down to just 30 odd riders by the time we hit the final kilometer, and we had Mark Renshaw delivering Mark Cavendish to that point.

Despite starting the final kilometer with a 40″ lead, Mcnulty cracked on the final 200m ascent which had an average gradient of 20%. Colbrelli was the fastest up the ramp and took the stage victory. Elia Viviani finished in 6th place, good enough to retain the overall race lead.

Cavendish dug real deep to stay in contention on the climb, eventually finishing in 20th on the stage but unfortunately with a 11″ time gap to Colbrelli. This saw our Manxman drop from 2nd to 12th on GC with just the final stage to go tomorrow.

Bernhard Eisel – Rider

It was a tough day. We committed from the beginning by putting Jay Thomson up there to ride. Mark Cavendish has been feeling good so we gave it a go and we were up there right until the final climb, but then Mark lost a bit of time. What we saw was a really strong breakaway today, with Mcnulty and Carpenter of Rally Cycling together with Connor Dunne. It was definitely a tough day for Jay to ride on the front, so chapeau. Him and Amanuel rode well and destroyed some other riders today. It was not the result we hoped for today but let’s see what we can do tomorrow.