Breakaway and a late attack as Mitchelton-BikeExchange animate the final stage in Dubai

Sat 10 Feb 2018

Chinese registered UCI Continental team Mitchelton-BikeExchange animated the final stage of the 2018 Dubai Tour, infiltrating the early breakaway before unleashing an audacious late attack in the closing kilometres.

Sun Xiaolong jumped into the early four-man move over the opening 20kilometres and claimed maximum points at the first intermediate sprint before dropping back into the peloton to help with the next part of the young team’s plan.

That turned out to be a surprise two man attack by Jacob Hennessy and Rob Stannard who launched themselves off the front with ten kilometres to go. After rotating their efforts, they were caught with only three kilometres remaining, but gained more valuable exposure for the team as the finale started to unfold.

After avoiding a late crash,  Elia Viviani (Quick-Step-Floors) won the final stage with the result sealing the overall tour title for the 29-year-old Italian.

Brief race review:

Expectations have been exceeded and objectives met for Mitchelton-BikeExchange over five days of racing in Dubai. Three times in the breakaway with Chinese riders Sun Xiaolong and Xue Fuwen following a sixth-place finish on the opening stage for talented young Briton Hennessy announced that the team were here to race,

Australians Stannard and Sam Jenner performed consistently, looking after Hennessy throughout and gaining valuable experience of racing at this level with Jenner taking 14th on the uphill finish at Hatta Dam on stage four.

Bieken Nazaerbieke finished in an impressive 25th on the general classification and the team’s fourth Chinese rider Bi Wenhui rode well on the opening day before succumbing to sickness and was forced to abandon the race.

Decisive Moments:

Mitchelton-BikeExchange started aggressively and it was Sun Xiaolong who again made it into the four-man move that went up the road with the quartet quickly gaining three minutes on the bunch.

Five minutes was the maximum the gap went out to with a high average speed maintained throughout with Sun Xiaolong stretching his legs and picking up maximum points in the intermediate sprint with 56kilometres to go.

Going into the closing 20kilometres and there was only one rider left out front with around one minute on the rapidly closing peloton.

The Final – Bunch Sprint:

With ten kilometres to go it was Hennessy and Stannard trying to disrupt the big guns with an audacious attack that lasted until three kilometres to go.

Chaos ensued with a crash on the final turn into the finishing straight that totally split the head of the bunch before Viviani, who escaped the carnage, sealed the stage and race win ahead of Marco Haller (Katusha-Alpecin).

Jacob Hennessy – Late Attack:

“We wanted to go and do something different today, the whole week has been about learning and also getting to know each other a bit better so we wanted to try and utiilise that and spring late attack.”

“When Rob and I went we gave it everything and it was always going to be long shot, but it showed what we are all about and that we have the confidence to have a go and get ourselves and the team out there.

“It has been such a fantastic experience for all of us to be here racing against the WorldTour riders and giving a good account of ourselves, if we can race like this in the first race of the season, when we don’t really know each other, then that’s a good sign for what we can achieve for the rest of the year.”

Sport Director James Victor:

“It has almost become our mantra for this week, but we have been treating every day like it is stage one and reiterating to the guys that there is no pressure and we are here to learn. The whole team has been fantastic, from the experienced staff working with the new staff and an international squad of riders getting over communication barriers and racing against the professionals.”

“After yesterday we were out of the GC and the plan today was to try something, we made the breakaway and we got in our late attack which worked out well for us. We gained exposure and showed the team colours and more importantly the whole team has enjoyed a great learning experience.

“It was my first week with the Chinese riders and we have made massive progress in a short space of time. I am looking forward to the season ahead and the signs for what we are trying to achieve with this team and our relationships are really positive.”

Tour of Dubai stage five results:

1. Elia Viviani (Quick-Step-Floors) 03:05:28

2. Marco Haller (Katusha-Alpecin) ST

3. Adam Blythe (Aqua-Blue-Sport) ST

21. Bieken Nazaerbieke (Mitchelton-BikeExchange) ST

Final General classification:

1. Elia Viviani (Quick-Step-Floors) 19:05:46

2. Magnus Cort (Astana) +0:12

3. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) +0:14

25. Bieken Nazaerbieke (Mitchelton-BikeExcghange) +02:35

Photos courtesy of Getty Images.