Top five for Ewan on a short third stage in Abu DhabiFri 23 Feb 2018
A short and fast third stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour concluded in what was probably the last bunch sprint of this year’s race with Caleb Ewan finishing in fifth place for the second day in succession.
Mitchelton-SCOTT stuck to the plan on stage three and once inside the closing kilometres lead out men Roger Kluge and Luka Mezgec held their line and delivered Ewan into a good position for the sprint, but it was Phil Bauhaus (Team-Sunweb) who took the win from a photo finish.
A headwind was gusting down the exposed finishing straight and despite being the first start his sprint the line couldn’t arrive quickly enough for Ewan and he finished fifth in what was a very closely fought final.
This time it was a quartet of riders who made the early escape, gaining close to three minutes before the bunch started to check themselves and close the gap with 70kilometres remaining.
With the break caught inside the closing 40kilometres echelons started to form in the crosswinds before a collective easing off brought the bunch back together again.
The tranquillity didn’t last for long, as the bunch hit the last ten kilometres the speed was high and the battle for position getting scrappier with every metre.
Kluge and Mezgec executed a textbook lead out for Ewan into the headwind afflicted finishing straight and despite gaining a small gap the 23-year-old finished a close fifth with Bauhaus taking the stage win.
Caleb Ewan - Fifth:
“It was a pretty straightforward stage today, it was short there wasn’t too much wind and it was quite cruisy throughout.”
“The boys did a great job for me again today, I am really happy with how they rode, but when I started my sprint I felt like I didn’t have anything in the legs. To be honest it’s a bit disappointing that I didn’t have it in the end.”
Sport Director Dave McPartland:
“The guys did great work again today, the lead out went almost to perfection, maybe taking into account the headwind we went a fraction too early, but no excuses. We didn’t quite have it in the sprint today, but that’s how it goes sometimes.”
“Our focus shifts to the GC now and Simon Yates is feeling good, we’ve got the time trial coming up tomorrow which will be pan flat, but we are looking forward to Sunday’s final stage and the climb up to Jebel Hafeet.”
Abu Dhabi Tour stage three results:
1. Phil Bauhaus (Team-Sunweb) 03:02:55
2. Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) ST
3. Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) ST
5. Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST
General Classification after stage three:
1. Elia Viviani (Quick-Step-Floors) 11:06:36
2. Alexander Kristoff (Team-UAE-Abu Dhabi) +0:03
3. Phil Bauhaus (Team-Sunweb) +0:03
7. Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:09
Photos courtesy of Getty Images.