Only hilly stage of the race is called off

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After initially shortening stage four of the Dubai Tour, race organisers have been forced to cancel the stage to Hatta Dam as high winds and sandstorms swept across the course.

The pre-race ritual of riders taking to the podium and signing on was completed as usual, before senior riders including Mark Cavendish, John Degenkolb and race leader Marcel Kittel met to discuss the conditions.

After consulting with UCI commissaires and team representatives, organisers decided to cancel the stage shortly after the peloton had been due to depart at 13:00 local time.

This is the second time that the UCI’s extreme weather protocol has been called into action this season, with stage one of the Tour Down Under being shortened as riders faced temperatures of more than 40ºC.

Stage four was the only hilly stage of the Dubai Tour, and its cancellation means that Marcel Kittel looks poised to win the overall classification.

Assuming he finishes in the front group on Saturday’s final stage, the German can only be beaten if he comes home outside the top three, and the stage is won by either Dylan Groenewegen or John Degenkolb.