Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) powered to victory atop Hatta Dam at the UAE Tour 2019, taking the stage four win ahead of Matteo Moschetti (Trek-Segafredo) and overall leader Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma).
The lead in to the steep final 400m surge up to the dam was chaotic, but Ewan was able to stay well positioned towards the front of the bunch, and jumped after Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) made his move first.
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With Moschetti also launching his move it quickly became a battle between the pair, but Ewan looked by far the strongest and held his power to win by a clear distance and take his first victory for new team Lotto-Soudal.
Race leader Roglič was the best performing of the general classification contenders, finishing third and three seconds ahead of second placed overall Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).
It looked like the biggest change on GC would see third placed David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) drop out of contention, crossing the line around 1-30 back on the winner having struggled after a late crash and a mechanical. Organisers awarded him the same time as the Valverde group after the finish.
How it happened
Stage four of the 2019 UAE Tour presented another – albeit shorter – uphill finish for the riders to Hatta Dam, with a fairly flat 197km route from Palm Jumeirah featuring a hilly final 30km or so.
A breakaway was able to get away early on and quickly gain over seven minutes in advantage, with Igor Boev, Artem Nych and Stepan Kurianov (all Gazprom-Rusvelo), Will Clarke (Trek-Segafredo), Alessandro De Marchi (CCC) and Charles Planet (Novo Nordisk) going clear.
With no real impetus to bring them back, the peloton allowed them to hang out front with a decent gap for much of the opening 100km.
Heading into the final 75km though, the pace began to rise dramatically as crosswinds gave opportunity for teams to try and drop some contenders for the stage.
While no echelons were forthcoming, the increase in speed saw the break’s advantage quickly cut. With 50km to go, it was down to under four minutes.
A brief flurry of action saw a split in the peloton in crosswinds, though it was short lived as GC teams failed to work together to properly drop the riders caught behind, much to the chagrin of world champion Alejandro Valverde, who had eyes on a second consecutive stage win.
The break’s gap continued to drop heading towards the hillier final 20km or so, with Kurianov the first rider to drop off and return to the peloton with 27km to go and the gap down to 2-30.
Things began to fluctuate for the breakaway in the last 18km, with the gap down to around 30 seconds, De Marchi decided to push on, with only Clarke and Nych able to follow.
That pushed the gap back out to almost 50 seconds, but as it began to fall to under 30 seconds again on a climb, De Marchi went solo with 13km to go.
Behind, Tom Dumoulin joined Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R La Mondiale) in attacking out of the peloton, with De Marchi just 17 seconds ahead.
Dumoulin caught De Marchi 10km to go, but could only build a maximum gap of eight seconds over the pursuing bunch.
There was then a crash towards the front of the bunch with about 7km to go, with Valverde, Gaudu and Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) caught out.
The remaining riders in the peloton then quickly caught Dumoulin with just over 5km to go, as the Valverde group made chase.
They finally caught back with 3.2km to go, with the race then accelerating on the twisty approach towards the bottom of the Hatta Dam. Gaudu appeared to be struggling after the crash however, and was dropped on the run-in.
UAE Team Emirates led in with most advantage to the final climb, dropping off Kristoff in perfect position to launch his sprint.
The Norwegian quickly seemed to fade, with Moschetti going clear followed by Ewan. The Australian was able to hold his power to the top of the climb well clear of Moschetti, clinching the victory on stage four.
The UAE Tour continues on Thursday with stage five, a 181km stage that should end in a bunch sprint.
UAE Tour 2019, stage four: Palm Jumeirah to Hatta Dam (197km)
1 Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto-Soudal, in 4-27-07
2 Matteo Moschetti (Ita) Trek-Segafredo, at 2s
3 Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, at same time
4 Quentin Jauregui (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale, at 5s
5 Luke Mezgec (Slo) Mitchelton-Scott
6 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Sunweb
7 Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
8 Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar Team
9 Marco Haller (Aut) Katusha-Alpecin
10 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo, all same time
General classification after stage four
1 Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, in 14-05-10
2 Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar Team, at 21s
3 David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 38s
4 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 46s
5 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Sunweb, at 54s
6 Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates, at 1-01
7 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Sunweb, at 1-04
8 Victor de la Parte (Esp) CCC Team, at 1-12
9 James Knox (GBr) Deceuninck-Quick-Step, at 01-14
10 Davide Formolo (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 1-15