Giant-Shimano’s Marcel Kittel won for the second time in as many days as he sprinted to claim stage three of the Dubai Tour in Hatta.
Kittel survived the hardest parcours on offer in the inaugural edition of the new middle east event, and outsprinted Juan Jose Lobato (Movistar) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) from a small group.
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The peloton split significantly on the day’s final climb, the top of which sat seven kilometres from the finish. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) was the most notable rider who attempted to break away, however his move was shut down by Sagan and Britain’s Steve Cummings, who was working for BMC team-mate and race leader Taylor Phinney, as well as looking after his second place on GC.
On the descent into the finish, Phinney himself marshalled a move, this time from Garmin-Sharp’s Sebastian Langeveld, before world road race champion Rui Costa attacked on the flat roads approaching the line.
His effort, too, was eventually shut down, as a sprint finish drew nearer. Kittel had kept a low profile throughout the stage, but emerged at the right time in sight of the line. Sagan was poorly positioned going into the final 500m, and had to move up on the far left of the road. However, his passage was blocked by Ramunas Navardauskas, an opportunity which Kittel took full advantage of.
“It was really hard, for me I had exactly enough power to pass those climbs,” said Kittel. “If they had been one-kilometre longer I would have been dropped. I knew the final before the stage, I knew I had a 50/50 chance. I’m happy to make it.
“In general the team helped me as much as possible, they kept me out of the wind so I could save enough for the last climbs. On the last climb it was every man for themselves. Our strategy was to see who was left after the climbs; although it was a bit more difficult without the lead-out, I’m glad I could still make it. “
With tomorrow’s final stage – which finishes in the shadows of the Burj Khalifa – likely to also finish in a sprint, Phinney should seal overall victory.
“We had virtually no help from any other teams today,” the American said afterwards. “They [his BMC team-mates] did an amazing job today. I felt good on the climbs, I tried to keep things together, stay up there, and have a bit of fun. I was super motivated to keep this jersey, and I’m pleased to pass this test.”
Dubai Tour 2014 stage three: Dubai to Hatta, 162.5km
1. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Giant-Shimano in 3-47-5
2. Juan Jose Lobato (Spa) Movistar
3. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale
4. Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Garmin-Sharp
5. Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (RSA) Giant-Shimano
6. Wout Poels (Ned) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
7. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar
8. Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin-Sharp
9. Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo
10. Jesus Herrada (Spa) Movistar all at st.
General classification after stage three
1. Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC in 6-50-24
2. Steve Cummings (GBr) BMC at 0-15
3. Lasse Norman Hansen (Den) Garmin-Sharp at 0-17
4. Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma-Quick Step at 0-23
5. Fabian Cancellara (Sui) Trek at 0-26
6. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale at 0-29
7. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Giant-Shimano at 0-33
8. Adriano Malori (Ita) Movistar at 0-33
9. Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Cannondale at 0-36
10. Peter Velits (Svk) BMC at 0-38