Sam Bennett took his second win of the UAE Tour 2021 on stage six in a chaotic finish into Palm Jumeirah while others were bumping and barging to try and get his wheel.
Bennett (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) looked comfortable as he took his second win during the second WorldTour mass sprint of the season beating Elia Viviani (Cofidis) and Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe).
The race was rather frantic in the last 10km as the roads went up and down bridges, with riders avoiding road furniture and taking on a tunnel and a u-turn with 3km to go.
Some sprinters got forced out of contention with 500 metres to go, but luckily there were no major crashes, with just two riders going down in a small incident.
Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) keeps his leaders jersey with no change in the general classification, Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) was down to stay at 45 seconds, but Pogačar was penalised 10 seconds due to pushing a rider.
How it happened
The stage started out on Deira Island before taking on 165km of almost completely flat roads, then winding to Palm Jumeirah, which has been a popular finish in the history of the UAE Tour, formally the Dubai Tour.
There was a breakaway of six riders who got a maximum gap of 3-30 before almost getting completely pulled back with 65km to go.
The break was made up of Tony Gallopin (Ag2r-Citroën), Iñigo Elosegui (Movistar), Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ), Mathieu Ladagnous (Groupama-FDJ), Luis León Sánchez and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Premier Tech).
It was Israel Start-Up Nation, Ineos Grenadiers and Deceuninck – Quick-Step who tried to split the race in the crosswinds but no big name general classification riders got caught out, so they sat up.
The gap did drop inside a minute to the break though, with the advantage sticking around the 40-second mark until the peloton started to get ready for the finish. The gap started to drop rapidly and the break got caught with 24km to go.
Three kilometres later though, Astana-Premier Tech sent another rider up the road in a late solo break with Dmitriy Gruzdev who managed a gap of 11 seconds, only being caught with 10km to go.
The last 9km of the stage were filled with awkward road furniture, various bridges and a tunnel before eventually getting onto the Palm Jumeirah.
Just as the peloton entered the tunnel two riders hit the deck, with Filippo Ganna leading the peloton for Ineos Grenadiers with 5km to go.
They came to a u-turn with 3km to go and it was still Ineos who had control with Ganna and Andrey Amador leading the way with the sprinters teams trying to drag their way to the front.
BikeExchange and Qhubeka-Assos took the lead with 2km to go with multiple teams jostling for positions in yet another scrappy lead-in to the finish.
Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) tried to shoulder barge David Dekker (Jumbo-Visma) out of the way, but failed and the Australian slipped back about six places.
Michael Mørkøv (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) led Bennett to the line where the Tour de France 2020 points jersey winner was unchallenged to the line.
The final day should see yet another sprint finish with a potential for Bennett to take a third win out of three attempts.
UAE Tour stage six, Deira Island to Palm Jumeirah (165km)
1. Sam Bennett (IRL) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, in 3-32-23
2. Elia Viviani (ITA) Cofidis
3. Pascal Ackermann (GER) Bora-Hansgrohe
4. David Dekker (NED) Team Jumbo-Visma
5. Fernando Gaviria (COL) UAE Team Emirates
6. Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA) Team Qhubeka-Assos
7. Kaden Groves (AUS) Team BikeExchange
8. André Greipel (GER) Israel Start-Up Nation
9. Cees Bol (NED) Team DSM
10. Michael Mørkøv (DEN) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, all at same time.
General classification after stage six
1. Tadej Pogačar (SLO) UAE Team Emirates, in 20-41-49
2. Adam Yates (GBR) Ineos Grenadiers, at 35 seconds
3. João Almeida (POR) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 1-12
4. Chris Harper (AUS) Team Jumbo-Visma, at 1-54
5. Neilson Powless (USA) EF Education-Nippo, at 1-56
6. Mattias Skjelmose Jensen (DEN) Trek-Segafredo, at 2-47
7. Damiano Caruso (ITA) Bahrain Victorious, at 2-49
8. Mattia Cattaneo (ITA) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 4-03
9. Rubén Fernández (ESP) Cofidis, at 4-23
10. Fausto Masnada (ITA) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 6-40.