DUBAI: Italian cyclist Sonny Colbrelli, who rides for Bahrein Merida, won the “queen” stage of the 2018 Dubai Tour that stretched across the Hatta Dam climb in a frenzied finish on Friday. Magnus Cort Nielsen, who had finished third during Stage 2, emerged second-best whereas Timo Roosen of Team Lotto NL secured the third position.
Colbrelli, made his Grand Tour debut at the 2012 Giro d’Italia, where he was earmarked as a lead-out man for the team’s sprinter, was behind Cort Nielsen moments to go before the finish line, but a last-minute acceleration saw him zoom past his Astana Pro team’s compatriot and register his first stage win of the season. In all this excitement, the jersey that matters the most, Blue, was retained by Elia Viviani, who finishes sixth and remains ahead of Cort Nielsen by two minutes, followed by Colbrelli at third.
Colbrelli, acknowledging his team’s role, said it was about time he rewarded them for their effort. “I really wanted to win today because the team has been working for me since day one. I was close yesterday. Today, again, Bahrain-Merida has done a great job,” he said after the win. “I launched the sprint from very far out because I had a mechanical and I was stuck on the 53. I couldn’t wait for this race to end. The last 50 metres looked like infinity to me. This victory means a lot for my team and is very important for my morale. Even without being the favourites, we raced as a team like leaders.”
The win lands him in four minutes behind overall leader in the General Classification Viviani, who seems most likely to lift the trophy, although he is ready to win for the final stage. The Italian cyclist has been the rock behind Quick-Steps Floors and has a wonderful bunch of guys backing him in the peloton.
“The race isn’t over yet. Two seconds advantage over Cort Nielsen isn’t much, considering how strong he is… but we have a strong team,” Viviani said after the finish. “It was the case again to close the gap on the breakaway riders. I’m happy with the result because the goal was to defend the Blue Jersey. I think I couldn’t do more than this. When Colbrelli went, I thought my legs were dying. I just have to do my best sprint tomorrow to win the Dubai Tour and possibly another stage.”
The only Danish cyclist the Dubai Tour, this was Cort Nielsen’s first climb of the Hatta Dam, and he admitted that the conditions were challenging. “Hatta Dam was a tough race. Even though it’s a short climb, it is a climb none the less and it does require a set of skills to excel here. There were plenty who were faster than me out there but thankfully I was able to still have some legs left for the climb up the dam and make it to the second place today and take the young rider’s jersey. So that is a good reward. It’s the first time I did the race here and I really liked it. It is quite challenging but at the same time one of those things that you need to go through to come out better,” Cort Nielsen said.
The fifth and final stage of the Dubai Tour takes place on Saturday across the main city, which is a relatively shorter stretch of 132 kms.
Source : timesofindia