Tailwinds push the peloton across the desert on stage three in DubaiThu 8 Feb 2018
Mitchelton-BikeExchange went through another valuable learning experience at the Tour of Dubai with strong winds ramping up the pace as the field sped across the desert towards the Gulf of Oman.
Missing out on the breakway meant that the Chinese outfit could sit on in the bunch and maintain a good position for sprinter Jacob Hennessy, but the day was anything but simple with the winds causing splits and the early catch of the breakaway before another fast finale on the seafront.
Mark Cavendish (Dimension-Data) returned to form and took out the stage win in convincing fashion as Hennessy was left crowded out and burning energy as he tried bravely to get back in contention with the front runners before the line.
Elia Viviani (Quick-Step-Floor) moves the race lead with two more days of racing to come and Hennessy in 12th place at 14seconds.
As with the previous two stages there was an early fight to get in the breakaway and despite his efforts Sun Xiaolong juts missed out as four riders slipped clear and began to develop a lead.
As the race sped across the desert towards he Eastern coast we saw strong winds play their part for the first time in the race. Swirling cross winds formed echelons before turning into a fast tailwind.
After reaching an advantage of six-minutes the breakaway quartet were soon swallowed by the sheer force of the wind pushing the peloton and with 65kilometres still to race the bunch was back together again.
A lone attack by Tom Bohli (BMC-Racing-Team) was thwarted by the bunch with 15kilometres to go and another sprint looking very likely.
The Final – Sprinting along the Gulf of Oman:
The tailwind pushed the riders all the way into a 90degree turn with three kilometres to go, but the change in direction did not slow the field down. Hurtling into the finishing straight as the sprinters came to the fore.
Hennessy was jumping wheels and was left with a lot to do after trying to break out of the crowd and it was Cavendish who took the win with Hennessy in a respectable 13th for the second day in succession.
Jacob Hennessy – 13th on the day:
“Today was a pretty steep learning curve for us as a team, we had something of everything, strong winds, echelons, no slowing down for the feed zone and to be honest it will be good for us because it also teaches the importance of staying together within the race and working as a unit.”
“I was caught quite far behind in the sprint and chose the wrong wheels this time, because I chose guys who had been up there the last couple of days, but who weren’t in the mix this time around. We’re still in a good place though and we are looking forward to the climbs tomorrow.”
Sport director James Victor:
“We got caught out with the wind a couple of times today, but that is a great learning experience for the boys and when Quick-Step-Floors put the hammer down through the feed zone it split the whole race.”
“Bieken Nazaerbieke punctured as did Jacob and that showed them both what chasing back through the convoy is like at this level and the riders are learning valuable lessons every day.
“Jacob is showing great consistency, 13th again today and we are in a good position with three guys overall and also in the team’s classification. Tomorrows stage will be interesting, we have one or two options for the climbs and it will be good to see how the situation is over the first couple of ascents as to what we can do up the final ramp up to the finish.”
Tour of Dubai stage three results:
1. Mark Cavendish (Dimension-Data) 03:53:46
2. Nacer Bouohanni (Cofidis) ST
3. Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) ST
13. Jacob Hennessy (Mitchelton-BikeExchange) ST
General classification after stage three:
1. Elia Viviani (Quick-Step-Floors) +0:02
2. Mark Cavendish (Dimension-Data) +0:04
3. Van Hooydonck (BMC-Racing-Team) +0:07
12. Jacob Hennessy (Mitchelton-BikeExchange) +0:14
Photos courtesy of Getty Images.