Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) took victory by half a wheel on the line of stage five of the 2019 UAE Tour.
The Italian made a late surge to pip Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) to the line with Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) and Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) also involved in the photo finish.
In a fairly uneventful stage, things only began to heat up in the final few kilometres as lead out trains tried to organise to put their respective sprinters in line for victory.
In the end it was UAE and Quick-Step that were placed ideally at the front in the final few hundred metres, with Alexander Kristoff dropping off Gaviria and Michael Mørkøv leading out Viviani.
While stage two winner Gaviria headed up the final sprint, with Kittel and Bennett emerging to his left from behind his wheel, it was Viviani who was able to make a later turn of speed from the right with around 20m to go to jump to the line just ahead of them and take the win.
Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) held on to his overall lead, finishing safely in the main bunch on a fairly calm day for the Slovenian.
How it happened
Stage five of the 2019 UAE Tour would likely see another opportunity for the sprinters, with a generally flat 181km route disturbed only by some unchallenging rises for the pro peloton.
It was déjà vu in the early breakaway as Charles Planet (Novo Nordisk) and Stepan Kurianov (Gazprom-Rusvelo) once again went in the escape, joined by their respective team-mates Fabio Calabria of Novo Nordisk and Anton Vorobyev and Sergey Shilov of Gazprom.
They could only establish a maximum gap of around 2-30 on the main bunch, with the sprint teams content to let them stay away for the bulk of the stage before a fast finale.
Nothing really disturbed the content bunch aside from some sand blasts in the crosswinds, with the gap only really dropping significantly within the last 50km.
With 35km to go and the intermediate sprint out of the way, the gap stood at just 17 seconds, with the break sitting up, happy to return to the peloton.
Only Fabio Calabria remained out front just ahead of the bunch with eight seconds past the 34km mark, but he was absorbed shortly after.
Nothing really changed until the final 10km, when the speed began to ramp up ahead of the finish.
Groupama-FDJ’s protected sprinter Marc Sarreau went down after a touch of wheels just under 4km to go, with no-one else brought down in the crash.
Lotto-Soudal and Dimension Data then did much of the work leading the peloton within the final few kilometres, however the Belgian team weren’t able to place Wednesday’s stage winner Caleb Ewan in line to sprint for the win, while Mark Cavendish seemed happy to let team-mate Reinardt Janse van Rensburg fight it out.
In the end it was Deceninck-Quick-Step’s work that paid off, as Viviani was able to beat his rivals to the finish and take his third victory of the season.
The UAE Tour continues on Friday with stage six, a 180km stage to a summit finish at Jebel Jais.
UAE Tour 2019, stage five: Sharjah to Khor Fakkan (181km)
1 Elia Viviani (Ita) Deceuninck-Quick-Step, in 4-48-59
2 Fernando Gaviria (Col) UAE Team Emirates
3 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin
4 Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe
5 Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension Data
6 Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Bahrain-Merida
7 Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Team Sky
8 Jakub Mareczko (Ita) CCC Team
9 Cees Bol (Ned) Team Sunweb
10 Max Walscheid (Ger) Team Sunweb, all at same time
General classification after stage five
1 Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, 18-54-09
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