Sixth for Hennessy and Mitchelton-BikeExchange on stage one in Dubai

Tue 6 Feb 2018

Gent-Wevelgem U23 champion Jacob Hennessy announced himself on the world stage by sprinting to sixth place for Mitchelton-BikeExchange on the opening day of racing at the Tour of Dubai, going up against WorldTour opposition and matching them pedal stroke for pedal stroke.

A great experience for Mitchelton-BikeExchange began in perfect conditions at Skydive Dubai with a slight tailwind pushing the peloton out into the desert before making the turn behind a breakaway quintet to head back towards the coast and the finish on the Palm Jumeirah.

As expected from the only UCI Continental team in the race the first day was about acclimatising to racing within the WorldTour peloton and enjoying the learning experience whilst keeping sprinter Hennessy in a good position.

However, that wasn’t on the agenda for the riders, as a hectic finale unfolded Hennessy launched himself into the bunch sprint to take sixth place behind stage winner Dylan Groenewgen (LottoNL-Jumbo) and finish ahead of some of the top sprinters in the world.

Decisive Moments:

The opening stage began as anticipated with an early breakaway of five riders going up the road in the first kilometres and quickly establishing a lead that topped out at five minutes before the peloton started to ride tempo and eat into the advantage.

The situation did not change until the closing 20kilometres when Andy Fenn (Aquablue-Sport) pushed on alone with the peloton less than a minute behind. Despite the effort from Fenn there was never much doubt that he would be caught, and the peloton passed him at the ten-kilometre mark.

Moments later a crash in the middle of the bunch disrupted the field with all Mitchelton-BikeExchange managing to avoid the spill along with most of the main sprinters.

The Final – Bunch Sprint:

With some coastal wind and a sharp dip and rise through a tunnel with six kilometres to go to deal with, the finish was anything but straight forward and positioning would be vitally important.

A slight cross-headwind hit the riders as they came out of the tunnel at speed and instantly shifted to the near side of the road with Rob Stannard leaving Hennessy in a strong position the 21-year-old Briton took his chance and sprinted through the gaps and into the top ten.

Jacob Hennessy – Sixth:

“The whole team were amazing today, everybody did their bit and Sam Jenner looked after me all day long and was constantly looking over his shoulder to make sure I was ok until Rob took over and dropped me off with 400metres to go. They really were brilliant.”

“It was hectic in the final and it surprised me how tight it was coming out of the tunnel, but we were up near the front and that proved to be important because it wound right up with two kilometres to go. The speed didn’t surprise me too much, but it was quite sketchy and I couldn’t look around so I just went for it and I am super happy with the result.”

Sport director James Victor:

“Due to the level of competition at this race, all the guys were a little nervous before the start of the race and we were trying to take some anxiety away by not put any pressure on them regarding objectives and expectations and they did everything that was asked of them today.”

“We wanted to avoid the break, look after ourselves and look after Jacob and I think we gained some respect in the bunch today. Jacob is here to race, there is no doubt about that and you can see that he wants to win, Rob did a great job getting him into a good position for the final and he finished very strongly.

“The result doesn’t change our approach for the rest of the race we will keep taking it day by day and try to learn from the experience, pick up as much as we can and stick to our plans and maintain the momentum we’ve gathered from today.”

Tour of Dubai stage one results:

1. Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) 03:51:35

2. Magnus Cort (Astana) ST

3. Elia Viviani (Quick-Step-Floors) ST

6. Jacob Hennessy (Mitchelton-BikeExchange) ST

General Classification after stage one:

1. Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) 03:51:35

2. Magnus Cort (Astana) +0:04

3. Elia Viviani (Quick-Step-Floors) +0:06

7. Jacob Hennessy (Mitchelton-BikeExchange) +0:10

Photos copurtesy of the Tour of Dubai.