Dubai Tour (final report)
Juanjo Lobato ends Emirati race again in 3rd overall, remarks Blues' job as they win the teams' classification, show full confidence on Spaniard's chances. Fine 5th place in GC for Gorka Izagirre
Marcel Kittel (EQS) won the 3rd Dubai Tour after conquering a final stage – 137km finishing right next to the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building – which Movistar Team tried to take advantage from to squeeze Juanjo Lobato’s chances for the overall win. The Spaniard, supported at their very best by all his seven team-mates, couldn’t be at the top into the decisive sprint, yet secured a third place overall which equals the Trebujena-born rider’s final result twelve months ago.
With all two intermediate sprints out of the bunch’s reach as a six-man breakaway battled for their own glory, the squad directed by Chente García Acosta focused on chasing for the final kick, with Giovanni Visconti and Marc Soler taking impressive efforts at the front. Into the closing stages, Oliveira, Dowsett, Castroviejo and Sütterlin tried to keep Lobato within the best; they succeeded until the last kilometer, where the late charge by Etixx and the swerving typical on such finishes avoided Lobato (14th) and Gorka Izagirre (20th, just behind Sütterlin) progressing further.
Movistar Team still improved their performance from 2015 by winning a stage –the prodigious sprint by Lobato in Hatta on Friday-, the GC podium, Gorka’s fifth overall and the teams’ classification, just in the same style they won it in Abu Dhabi last October. A good end to the team's great commitment towards their top sprinter all over the four days of racing.
Juanjo Lobato: “The stage went well and the team was perfect, but there was a lot of stress and some touch between riders with a kilometer to go made me lost all chances to contest the day’s win. Kittel unbeatable? Most probably yes, though I was feeling great today and I think we could have been closer to him than we were.
“I’m not disappointed about finishing just third – we came here with a GC podium as goal and it happened. Actually, I’m really happy about the work my team-mates delivered all race. Being all of us together on the podium as the winning team makes me happier than that 3rd spot. This week was a confirmation of the whole squad’s efforts early this season and also a proof of our great atmosphere, into racing and also outside.
“I think I’m building a good form – let’s hope to keep progressing and be 100% for that crucial month in the spring. This week also made me see that finishes like Hatta’s suit me better, as I’m a good sprinter yet less heavy than many rivals. I’m getting closer and closer to the top guys in the world in all finishes, though.”