Race leader Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) set up overall victory at the UAE Tour 2019 with an emphatic victory on the final summit finish to Jebel Jais on stage six.
The Slovenian was able to kick just before the line to beat Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) to victory, in what was essentially a bunch sprint between the race’s climbers.
A large group was able to stay together on the fairly kind gradients of the 20km climb, with Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) the first to try to sprint to victory with a few hundred meters to go.
He was unable to maintain his effort and Dumoulin came from behind to launch his sprint. It was a fine effort for the Dutchman, but he tired just a few meters before the line and that allowed Roglič to come through on his left and take victory.
Roglič extends his overall lead to 31 seconds over second place Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) thanks to time bonuses on the line, with France’s David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) holding on to third place.
How it happened
The final mountain stage of the UAE Tour 2019 looked set to decided the overall, with a 20km summit finish to Jebel Jais concluding the 175km stage.
As usual in the UAE, the preceding kilometres before the final climb on stage six were almost entirely flat, and as such the peloton raced through the first two hours with an average speed of over 45kmh.
The weather was causing some problems though, with some strong wind and wet roads playing their part in early crashes, which saw second overall Alejandro Valverde caught up.
The high-speed of the opening couple of hours was mainly due to Italian champion Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) getting in the breakaway, along with team-mate Michael Mørkov, Jan Tratnik and Marcel Sieberg (both Bahrain-Merida), Michael Albasini (Mitchelton-Scott), Joey Rosskopf (CCC Team), Will Clarke (Trek-Segafredo) and Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal), who instigated the move.
Viviani however was only interested in picking up points in the intermediate sprints, and duly sat up with Mørkov having taken maximum points through the two early sprints.
That left six riders out front, with a gap that had shot up to over nine minutes and was still at 8-30 with around 60km left to race. Rosskopf was the best placed rider in GC of the break, just 9-08 down on leader Primož Roglič.
That meant Jumbo-Visma were willing to take no chances, and worked hard heading towards the final 30km on the front to try and reduce the gap, which still hovered around 8-10.
The harder roads that started to emerge from then on saw the gap begin to drift though, with an advantage of 6-50 at 27km to go as the road began to rise towards the climb proper.
They lost well over a minute in the next 7km to the foot of the climb, holding just 5-07. Sieberg was then the first to be dropped at 19km to go, with Adam Hansen next to go not long after.
The gap continued to drop rapidly as the peloton sped up the climb and break tired, with Albasini dropped as Tratinik attacked with 12.5km to go, the gap now just at three minutes.
Clarke was then dropped 9km to go, with the last two remaining riders in Tratnik and Rosskopf forging on despite shedding time quickly.
With Tratnik then finished at around 6km remaining, American Rosskopf boldly held on until 2.3km to go, when he was finally absorbed by the main group of climbers.
That catch was in large thanks to Laurens De Plus, who was driving and incredible the pace for Jumbo-Visma and Roglič into the final kilometre, preventing any attacks from behind.
That led the race to culminating in a bunch sprint for the line, with race leader Roglič able to add a stage win to what looks like an almost certain overall win.
The UAE Tour concludes on Friday with a flat stage of 145km from Dubai Safari Park to City Walk.
UAE Tour 2019, stage six: Ajman to Jebel Jais (175km)
1 Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, in 4-15-36
2 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Sunweb
3 David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
4 Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates
5 Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar Team
6 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Sunweb
7 Maximillian Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
8 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
9 Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates, all at same time
10 James Knox (GBr) Deceuninck-Quick-Step, at 5 seconds
General classification after stage six
1 Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, in 23-09-38
2 Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar Team, at 31s
3 David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 44s
4 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 56s
5 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Sunweb, at 1-04s
6 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Sunweb, at 1-08
7 Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates, at 1-11
8 James Knox (GBr) Deceuninck-Quick-Step, at 01-29
9 Laurens De Plus (Bel) Jumbo-Visma, at 1-45
10 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky, at 1-49