UAE Tour (st. 4)
World Champion from Movistar Team finds great late support from team-mates after incident with 6km remaining; retains 2nd overall, now 21″ behind race leader Roglic (TJV).
Alejandro Valverde’s (Movistar Team) determination to score new victories in the 2019 UAE Tour found unsurmountable opposition in an incident which locked him out of any chance to win on stage four, 197km from Palm Jumeirah to the 17% slopes of the Hatta oman, next to the Oman border.
The work by the Telefónica-backed squad to keep the World Champion company in the crosswinds attempts halfway through the stage, and also working hard at the front to bring back the early, six-man break -with Alessandro De Marchi (CPT) as big protagonists- had to be doubled down as a crash inside the field, 6km before the end, held up Nelson Oliveira, Lluís Mas and Valverde himself -with no injuries for neither of them-.
Helped out in the chase by Sütterlin, Mas and Amador, Alejandro came back to the group with three kilometers remaining. However, the enormous effort to join the peloton deprived him of most of his energies to contest the demanding uphill sprint.
Valverde crossed the line in 8th place, 5″ behind winner Caleb Ewan (LTS) and 3″ after Primoz Roglic (TJV), who scored a 4″ bonus and put an advantage on all his rivals to now sit 21″ ahead of the Spaniard in the GC. There’s still three stages left in the Emirates, including the 20-kilometer-long Jebel Jais as showdown on Friday; before that, the peloton will tackle another opportunity for the sprinters in Khor Fakkan (181km), with a slight kick uphill near the end and gusts of wind as a perennial threat.
Cover picture (c): Dario Belingheri / BettiniPhoto.net