Sam Bennett took the win in a very chaotic sprint finish on stage four of the UAE Tour 2021 beating the young Dutch sprinter David Dekker and Australian Caleb Ewan.
Bennett (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) took the fastest line into the finish as they came round a gradual left hand bend with Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) picking the wrong side.
Dekker (Jumbo-Visma) was following the wheel of Bennett in the final moments and did get blocked a little bit but managed to use the slipstream of the Irishman to take yet another very impressive second place.
Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) keeps the red leader’s jersey with no issues as the general classification doesn’t see any change.
How it happened
The stage started and finished on the island of Al Marjan with a huge loop of 204.1km over a pan flat course that only saw two riders go up the road.
Those riders were Francois Bidard (Ag2r-Citroen) and Olivier Le Gac (Groupama-FDJ), who pulled out a gap of around four minutes before the peloton slowly started to reel the break in.
Lotto-Soudal joined overall leader Pogačar’s UAE Team Emirates squad on the front to set the pace for the peloton as they worked for their sprinter, Ewan.
After the escape went away with about 80km to go, they were caught with about 28km to go, as no-one was wanting to go in the break on this long stage.
The break did take the top two spots in the two intermediate sprints with young Dutchman, Dekker taking the third place as he goes for the points jersey.
Mostly the pace was very relaxed all day as the teams just kept together and organised as they got closer and closer to the finish. Even with 12km to go the pace was relatively sedate.
Suddenly, with 10km to go the pace rocketed up as teams challenged for positions on a very wide highway taking in a couple of huge roundabouts, as the peloton went into a five-lane road, this split the peloton in two due to the wideness with 8km to go.
The team that managed to take control with 7km to go was Astana-Premier Tech but several other teams managed to come over the top.
The road then compacted to just two lanes with 5km to go, the pace still not as high as perhaps a normal bunch sprint build up would be.
Bora-Hansgrohe, Trek-Segafredo and UAE Team Emirates took on the control with 3km to go as the GC riders started to slip down the group thanks to the 3km rule – any crashes after that and they would not lose time.
A roundabout came up and the tight turn saw Ewan’s Lotto-Soudal come up as the lead-outs started looking very messy with 2km to go.
Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) was the first to take up the sprint but it was too early alongside Cees Bol (Team DSM) and they got swamped, most riders started going to the right as the road swerved round to the left, but Bennett took the left hand line, which was the fastest to win.
Stage five sees the riders head to the mountains again as they are set to take on the Jebel Jais, much longer than the previously raced Jebel Hafeet but not as difficult
UAE Tour stage four, Al Marjan Island to Al Marjan Island (204.1km)
1. Sam Bennett (IRL) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, in 4-51-51
2. David Dekker (NED) Team Jumbo-Visma
3. Caleb Ewan (AUS) Lotto-Soudal
4. Elia Viviani (ITA) Cofidis
5. Matteo Moschetti (ITA) Trek-Segafredo
6. Pascal Ackermann (GER) Bora-Hansgrohe
7. Phil Bauhaus (GER) Bahrain Victorious
8. Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA) Team Qhubeka-Assos
9. Fernando Gaviria (COL) UAE Team Emirates
10. Kaden Groves (AUS) Team BikeExchange, all at same time.
General classification after stage four
1. Tadej Pogačar (SLO) UAE Team Emirates, in 12-50-21
2. Adam Yates (GBR) Ineos Grenadiers, at 43 seconds
3. João Almeida (POR) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 1-03
4. Chris Harper (AUS) Team Jumbo-Visma, at 1-43
5. Neilson Powless (USA) EF Education-Nippo, at 1-45
6. Mattias Skjelmose Jensen (DEN) Trek-Segafredo, at 2-36
7. Mattia Cattaneo (ITA) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 2-38
8. Damiano Caruso (ITA) Bahrain Victorious, at same time
9. Rubén Fernández (ESP) Cofidis, at 3-32
10. Fausto Masnada (ITA) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, 4-47.