Big names, big rides and a big desert. The Dubai Tour gave us plenty of action to talk about last week, here's a five things we learned
2017 could be a vintage year for sprinting
Even though Marcel Kittel took three stages and the overall crown in Dubai, he was made to work for his wins, with Dylan Groenewegen, John Degenkolb, and Mark Cavendish just three of the sprinters who were all in close attendance.
It might just be that it’s still early in the year, so any bike racing is exciting, but the sprint finishes in Dubai were fascinating to watch, with powerful sprint teams fighting for control in the final kilometres, lots of ebb and flow on the front of the peloton, and the winner far from obvious until the final few metres of each stage.
If these are the sort of sprint finishes that we’ve got to look forward to for the rest of the season, then it could be a vintage year for sprinting.
Put some money on Marcel Kittel for the 2018 Dubai Tour
Here’s a stat for you. Marcel Kittel has competed in eleven road stages in the history of the Dubai Tour. And he’s won eight of them.
On top of that the big German has won the race overall twice and also taken the points classification twice as well. All that adds up to some serious Dubai Tour domination, that makes us tempted to back him for the 2018 race already.
Andriy Grivko has a mean left hook
Despite four stages and nearly 700km of racing, the 2017 Dubai Tour will most likely be remembered for a single incident: Andriy Grivko’s punch on Marcel Kittel that left the German with blood running down his face, and led to Grivko’s disqualification after stage three.
This is a reminder of just how cut-throat it can be in the peloton, and even if races such as the Dubai Tour may not be that important to fans, for professional riders they can mean a lot.
Bob Jungels is an absolute animal
Maybe it’s just the fact that he is easy to spot in his Luxembourg national champion’s jersey, but there hardly seemed to be a moment where Quick-Step Floors’ Bob Jungels wasn’t tapping away on the front of the peloton throughout the four days of racing.
You’d tune in with 90km to go and the break six minutes up the road, and there was Jungels looking relaxed on the front of the bunch. You’d pop out to the shops, come back with 40km to go and the break two minutes up the road, and there was Jungels. You’d tune back in for the final 10km, and there was Jungels busting a gut to get Marcel Kittel in the right position, looking as strong as if he hadn’t just spent 80km pulling 120 other riders along in his wake.
If this guy doesn’t start pulling off some big results this year, then we’d be very surprised.
The first 20km of a bike race is just as exciting as the last 20km
Very occasionally you might see the whole of a Grand Tour stage televised, but it was a rare treat to watch the whole of the final 124km stage of the Dubai Tour.
Often the day’s breakaway can just roll off the front of the peloton, which then sits up to enjoy a couple of hours tapping away at tempo. But on stage five, dedicated fans were treated to an hour of scintillating racing, with cut-and-thrust action and plenty of attacking, with a break not being established for more than 40km.