Sam Jenner 14th on the climb up to Hatta Dam on stage four in Dubai

Fri 9 Feb 2018

Former Australian U23 national champion Sam Jenner finished 14th for Mitchelton-BikeExchange on the tough summit finish on stage four of the Tour of Dubai after the lone remnant of the breakaway was caught with 50metres to go.

A heavily anticipated stage started well for the Chinese outfit when Sun Xiaolong made the jump into the early breakaway and executed the first step of the teams plan for the day.

The group worked well together across the desert before Xiaolong dropped off as the race hit the mountains and the first climbs of the week.

As the pace increased dramatically there was only one rider left out front going into the closing kilometres and a splitting peloton chasing hard behind.

Robert Stannard suffered three untimely punctures in the last 30kilometres and it was Jenner who made the selection on the 17% ramp up to the finish.

Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) took an impressive victory over the top of the Hatta Dam with Jenner never getting the chance to shift down to the little ring and crossing the line in 14th.

Decisive Moments:

The first objective for the day was filled by Sun Xiaolong making it into the six-rider breakaway and becoming the second Chinese rider to do so.

After 70kilometres of racing the Xiaolong group had stretched their lead to an impressive seven minutes with Xiaolong taking third in the first intermediate sprint of the stage.

Strong winds whipped across the desert plain and the peloton made hard work of the chase until the tailwind kicked in and the inclines began, combining to reduce the deficit dramatically.

The Finale – Summit finish/Hatta Dam:

Only one rider from the initial breakaway remained up the road with one kilometre to go and the steep climb up to the line ahead.

Bahrain-Merida, Astana and BMC-Racing-Team led the charge onto the climb with Jenner and Jacob Hennessy in tow before the selection finally formed, passing Brandon McNulty (Rally-Cycling) with 50metres to go and Colbrelli taking a close victory ahead of Magnus Cort (Astana).

Sam Jenner – 14th on the stage:

“I was hurting quite a lot going onto the final climb and at first I thought Jacob was on my wheel, so I just tried to maintain my momentum until he went, when I realised he wasn’t there I didn’t have time to shift down into the little ring so I ended up grinding big gear all the way up.”

“When I saw Jacob wasn’t there with around 300metres to go I thought ok, this is an opportunity to go for it, but they had already kicked out of the corner and although I was gaining ground I couldn’t quite get level.

“It was a great experience and you can see why these guys are WorldTour riders, it was just a shame Rob punctured when he did because he has the kind of punch you need to be right in the mix on a finish like that.”

Sport director James Victor:

“We went in today’s stage with quiet hopes of maybe making it into the top ten, we had two or three guys within reach and out of all of them we know that Rob gas the qualities and potential to be up there. But, unfortunately he punctured three times in the last thirty kilometres and wasn’t in a position to contest the finale.”

“That meant that Sam got up there and it was a great effort by him, but he lost three minutes on the first stage otherwise he may have been looking at higher position on GC. He showed his potential at the nationals in Australia again this year and he’s clearly hitting some good form ahead of our big European races.

“This race has been an important learning experience for our Chinese riders and they are getting better and more comfortable every day, Sun Xiaolong got his chance in the break today and did a great job up there. They understand now what racing at this level is all about and that’s a big step forward for them and the team.”

Tour of Dubai stage four results:

1. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) 03:40:50

2. Magnus Cort (Astana) ST

3. Timo Roosen (LottoNL-Jumbo) ST

14. Sam Jenner (Mitchelton-BikeExchange) +0:09

General classification after stage four:

1. Elia Viviani (Quick-Step-Floors) 16:00:28

2. Magnus Cort (Astana) +0:02

3. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) +0:04

26. Bieken Nazaerbieke (Mitchelton-BikeExchange) +2:25

Photos courtesy of Getty Images.