The final stage of the Dubai Tour saw another thrilling bunch sprint that Marcel Kittel (Etixx-Quickstep) would win ahead of Elia Viviani (Team Sky) with our Mark Cavendish taking the final podium spot. Kittel’s win was also enough to see him win the Dubai Tour overall.
After losing Bernie Eisel to a broken collarbone sustained during yesterday’s stage, Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka looked to take a positive approach today and placed Daniel Teklehaimanot in the 6 rider break of the day. Daniel and his fellow escapees rode their way into a 3’30” lead allowing the rest of our African Team to sit back and conserve some energy in the peloton.
While our rival teams were on the front chasing our Eritrean time trial champion, Cav would get our remaining 5 riders to position him near the front of the group as the gap and remaining kilometers lessened. With the GC battle hotting up, and only a few seconds between the top contenders, Trek, Movistar & Etixx all sent riders to the front to ensure a bunch sprint for the bonus seconds would decide the overall.
As Daniel and co. were caught at 12km to go, our African Team moved to the front of the peloton with Natnael Berhane putting in a big 6km turn at the front of the peloton. The solid team work by our boys placed Cav and Mark Renshaw in the top 10 places with 2km to go. A technical run in to the line really stretched the peloton out and Cav found himself maybe 1 or 2 wheels too far back. Nevertheless, the Manxman was still fast enough to cross the line in a solid 3rd place today.
Mark Cavendish – Rider
With Daniel in the break we were in a great position today, not having to use our team to ride on the front. Obviously it was going to be more difficult without Bernie in the final, but the team were incredible. They kept me sheltered and safe near the front of the group. Actually, I was expecting a fast final 500m as the roadbook showed we did the slip-road. But as we approached, it was clear we did a sharp 100-degree corner. I was where I wanted to be behind Kittel and Viviani, but I entered the corner too sharply and scrubbed off too much speed. I left myself with too much to do in the final 250m against the fastest guys in the world. Overall, we’re really happy with the week. Obviously we had some bad luck, but Team Dimension Data were up at the front and visible the whole race. It’s only February but it is a very positive start for the rest of the year.