Xue Fuwen makes the break for Mitchelton-BikeExchange on stage two in Dubai

Wed 7 Feb 2018

Mitchelton-BikeExchange ticked another box on stage two of the Tour of Dubai when Chinese rider Xue Fuwen made it into the day’s breakaway and enjoyed a long stint out front in the desert sun.

Stage two was the longest of the five-day race and moved up the coast to another of the seven United Emirate states, Ras al Khaimah and sensing it was a good opportunity the Chinese outfit had all riders on alert in the opening kilometres, with Xue Fuwen part of the key attack.

Sprinters are the dominant force at this race and the break was always going to be caught and once the move had come to an end the focus shifted to Jacob Hennessy and the positioning of our 21-year-old leader in the pack.

Not quite as chaotic as the opening stage and slightly split over the closing metres, stage two was won by Elia Viviani (Quick-Step-Floors) with Hennessy trying hard but boxed in slightly and out of the top ten in 13th on the day.

Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) retains the race lead with Hennessy in 10th overall and the Mitchelton-BikeExchange camp buoyed by a positive opening two stages.

Decisive Moments:

Inevitably the fight to be a part of the breakaway began straight out of the neutral zone and after two or three near misses our own Xue Fuwen jumped at the right time and formed part of the six-rider move that the peloton let go.

The group worked well together and stretched their lead past six minutes before the peloton started to organise themselves and ride tempo to keep the lead in check. Into the second half of the stage and the group reduced to three riders with Xue Fuwen reamaining up the road.

With 20kilometres remaining the writing was on the wall for Fuwen’s group. The sprinters teams timed their catch and made it with…

The Finale – Sprint #2:

Due to the topography of Dubai, the proximity to the desert and the coast will always bring with it some wind and a cross-tailwind became a cross-headwind when the riders made the turn towards the finishing straight and wound up the speed dramatically.

The sprint fractured over the final 100metres and Hennessy was caught outside of the top ten when Viviani jumped with the Italian holding off all comers to take the stage win.

Jacob Hennessy – 10th overall:

“It was a great day for the team today, for Xue Fuwen to make it into the breakaway and stay up the road for such a long time is great and it really increases the confidence of the whole team. It was our goal for the day and we are all really happy with how that played out.”

“The sprint was a bit different today, the boys did well in looking after me again, but I picked the wrong wheels in the final and ended up chasing it in the last 100metres. There was some carnage with the other lead out trains and it was somewhat chaotic, but if you would have offered me 10th overall after two days of racing I would’ve taken it.”

Sport director James Victor:

“You could see the difference and the intent of the WorldTour teams that are here with big lead out trains and teams dedicated to that purpose and for our guys that forms a part of the whole learning experience of racing at this level.”

“Jacob did well again today but he had to come from a bit too far back and is probably missing that last man to deliver him at the right moment. Nevertheless, we had a great day in the breakaway with Xue Fuwen and we can’t understate how big that is for us.

“To have a Chinese rider out there all day in a big race outside of China is fantastic for the team, for the riders and for Asian racing. It is a big part of what we are trying to achieve for this team and for the future.

“Now they have the belief that they can do it and they have also earnt some more respect from within the peloton and I have a team full of riders banging down my door asking to go in the breakaway tomorrow.”

Tour of Dubai stage two results:

1. Elia Viviani (Quick-Step-Floors) 04:34:31

2. Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) ST

3. Riccardo Minali (Astana) ST

13. Jacob Hennessy (Mitchelton-BikeExchange) ST

General classification after stage two:

1. Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) 08:25:50

2. Elia Viviani (Quick-Step-Floors) +0:02

3. Nathan Van Hooydonck (BMC-Racing-Team) +0:09

10. Jacob Hennessy (Mitchelton-BikeExchange) +0:16

Photos courtesy of Getty Images.