Abu Dhabi Tour comes to a close atop Jebel HafeetSun 25 Feb 2018
Former Czech national road champion Roman Kreuziger climbed up the general classification to finish 14th overall for Mitchelton-SCOTT after a solid showing on the final stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour.
The week began well with third place on the opening stages for Caleb Ewan followed by back-to-back fifth place finishes after consistently strong lead outs by Slovenian national champion Luka Mezgec, Roger Kluge and Jack Bauer.
As it drew to a conclusion on today’s fifth and final stage Mitchelton-SCOTT harbored hopes of sneaking maybe a stage win with Briton Simon Yates or a higher finish overall on the GC. It was not to be for the 25-year-old who suffered some sickness on the climb up to the finish and it fell to Kreuziger to push on.
In the end it was Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) who stole the glory with the stage win and the overall after a series of characteristically brutal attacks five kilometres from the finish.
A large group of nine riders formed the final breakaway of the race and quickly stretched their lead out past ten-minutes before the peloton began to take notice.
With 40kilometres left to race the gap halved, but it was only the final 11kilometres that really mattered with the climb up to the finish and that’s where the action occurred.
Jebel Hafeet – Summit Finish:
The front of the peloton reduced rapidly as the race hit the climb and the favourites showing themselves instantly as they passed what was left of the breakaway. Yates and Kreuziger both lost contact with the leading duo with five kilometres to go as Valverde and Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) fought out the win.
In the end it was the evergreen Valverde who sealed the stage and race win as he sprinted clear out of the final corner and clear of Lopez with Kreuziger the first over the line for Mitchelton-SCOTT.
Roman Kreuziger - 14th GC:
“It was a super high tempo all the way up the climb and everyone was on their limit, it was full gas and a real fight to the finish. So much so that I thought I may have finished a little higher up.”
“I was in a good group going up in the final few kilometres and everyone was working hard to keep the momentum going. Of course we wanted to do better this week, but we are working well together as a team, even if the results from this race are not what we wanted.”
“It is a long season and we have some big races coming up so now I need to recover before Paris-Nice starts in a week’s time.”
Sport director Dave McPartland:
“We came into the race with higher expectations and although the buys have performed well as a team we are obviously quite disappointed that we haven’t come away with a better result.”
“Unfortunately, Simon was suffering from gastric problems on the climb today and the plan fell to pieces so we had to try and go with Roman and he did his best on what turned out be a very fast and challenging finale.
“It was a respectable ride in the end from Roman and now we have to look ahead to the upcoming races with Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico just around the corner.”
Abu Dhabi Tour stage five results:
1. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 04:38:47
2. Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) ST
3. Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step-Floors) +0:15
12. Roman Kreuziger (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:55
Final general classification:
1. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 16:00:11
2. Wilco Kelderman (Team-Sunweb) +0:17
3. Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) +0:29
14. Roman Kreuziger (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:55
Photos courtesy of Getty Images.