The Dubai Tour reached its conclusion today with a mass sprint in downtown Dubai. Marcel Kittel (Quickstep-Floors) was a familiar victor, sprinting to the win ahead of Elia Viviani (Team Sky) and Riccardo Minali (Astana). Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka’s Mark Cavendish freewheeled across the line in 4th place.
Just a short 124km stage around the streets of Dubai brought the 4th edition of the Dubai Tour to a close. A fast start prevented any breakaways from obtaining a gap of any significance, and so one final sprint royal was on the cards to decide the stage.
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka were hoping to finish the tour on a high note after a number of near misses in earlier stages of the event. With 11km to go, our African train moved up the left side of the road with all 8 riders, to command the head of the peloton. Jay Thomson, Nic Dougall, Scott Thwaites, Ryan Gibbons and Bernhard Eisel were tasked with keeping the pace high enough for our finishing trio of Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, Mark Renshaw and Mark Cavendish to enter the final in a good position.
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka came up against some stiff competition in the form of the Team Sky, Bahrain Merida and Quickstep-Floors trains, but our African Team certainly seemed to have the edge today. Each member of the train did an excellent job, with Eisel in particular showing real strength in the final 3km. Janse van Rensburg led the peloton under the 1km to go kite, followed by Renshaw and Cavendish as Quickstep made a move up the right side of the peloton with 3 riders.
A mechanical for the 3rd Quickstep rider created a gap between wheels, resulting in Renshaw and the final lead out rider from Quickstep, moving clear of their protected sprinters. This slight mishap disrupted what was up to this point, a near perfect leadout. Nevertheless, Adam Blythe (Aqua Blue Sport) and Jempy Drucker (BMC Racing) closed the gap to the two leadout men in the final 500m as Kittel followed them, with Cavendish in the race leaders wheel. As Kittel jumped for the line, Cavendish was perfectly placed to come off his wheel with 150m to go. Unfortunately, misfortune had fell upon our Manxman once again and a rear mech failure cut his sprint short.
Kittel took another good stage win and with it, the overall Dubai Tour title. Cavendish, visibly frustrated, freewheeled across the line from 50 meters out with enough speed to still take 4th place. Overall, Cavendish was our best placed rider on GC in 8th and Janse van Rensburg was 9th. Leaving Dubai without a stage win and 8th and 9th on GC was less than what our African Team had hoped for, but confidence can be taken from the way the leadout train and team have worked together this week.
Roger Hammond – Sport Director
It’s a real pity today. The guys were really motivated and were trying to finish the race off in style. I think you could see from the pictures they really took the race on and did exactly what we asked them to do. A slight issue on the finishing straight for Mark meant we didn’t get the victory we deserved for this week. So it’s been a bit of a frustrating week and the guys showed they’ve got really good form and they’re fighting well. Just a little bad luck here and there prevented us from getting that victory. So we look forward to the next races knowing that we are in a good place.