Abu Dhabi Tour Stage 3: Showdown on the Climb to Jabel Hafeet25. February 2017, Abu Dhabi (UAE) — Road Team
As predicted, Abu Dhabi Tour Stage 3 came down to a decisive showdown on the climb to Jabel Hafeet with Manuel Senni trying his luck with an early attack before the final duel between Rui Costa (UAE Emirates) and Ilnur Zakarin (Team Katusha Alpecin) the stage win.
The day started with a lengthy out and back loop out from Al Ain city, and the peloton was happy to allow a four-rider breakaway to go clear after only three kilometers of racing.
After nudging the 5-minute mark, the lead of the breakaway began to bounce around in front of a relaxed peloton, first dipping to around one minute before rising again with 75 kilometers to go.
With 15km to go, and the breakaway caught, the road began to rise, and soon the peloton was quickly strung out on the early slopes of the climb.
As the main General Classification contenders tried to guess each other's next move, Senni, Costa, Ilnur Zakarin (Team Katusha Alpecin) and Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) took advantage and attacked.
The group went clear, and Senni put in a strong effort at the front of the race. However, he was eventually brought back into the reduced bunch after Costa and Zakarin made their decisive final move.
With no organized chase from the group behind, the pair were able to battle for the stage victory between themselves with Costa taking the win ahead of Zakarin and moving into the overall lead on the General Classification.
Quotes from the Finish Line
“Early into the climb, I saw that Costa was riding very well and when he attacked I was able to follow. But he had a very strong pace and eventually I just couldn't stick on his wheel. After that, I tried my best to stay in the group behind, but after my earlier effort, I just didn’t have enough left in the tank. I feel like I have good form right now, and I showed I am getting stronger and stronger on the climbs. Perhaps my mistake today was attacking too far from the finish, but it's always good to try."
“We knew today was always destined to come down to the final climb, so we were preparing ourselves for that. There wasn't a big fight as we went onto the early slopes, so everything seemed fairly calm but in the end, once the pace started, we just didn't have the best legs. Manuel Senni did a good job with his attack but I think a lot of guys went into the red on that climb and once you do that it's hard to get out of it. There were a lot of big names, including Tejay van Garderen, who didn't get what they wanted today so we will go away and regroup and see what we can do."
Abu Dhabi Tour
Stage 3: Al Ain - Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium > Jabel Hafeet, 186km
Top 3: 1. Rui Costa (UAE Emirates) 2. Ilnur Zakarin (Team Katusha Alpecin) 3. Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 35. Nicolas Roche 37. Manuel Senni 47. Samuel Sánchez