Dubai Tour: Van Hooydonck in the Breakaway, Vliegen Tenth in Hectic Finale6. February 2018, Dubai (UAE) — Road Team
The Dubai Tour got off to a fast start today with Nathan Van Hooydonck opening up his 2018 season with a day in the breakaway before Loïc Vliegen sprinted to a top ten finish.
The battle to form the breakaway began the moment the flag dropped on stage 1 with both Tom Bohli and Dylan Teuns helping to drive the early pace before, after just 5km of racing, Van Hooydonck was part of a strong three-rider move that went clear off the front of the bunch.
As the Van Hooydonck-led breakaway swelled to five riders, and the peloton eventually sat up, the gap began to rise quickly and, with 135km of the 167km course to go, their advantage tipped over the five-minute mark.
However, with a bunch sprint up for grabs at the end of the day, the peloton soon took control of the race, bringing the advantage of the five leaders down to within a manageable 2’30”, where it stayed before falling again heading into the second half of the stage.
With 60km to go and the gap sitting at 1’45”, the chase began to heat up with the peloton, led by the sprinters’ teams, stretched out along the road as they continued to pull back Van Hooydonck and his fellow breakaway riders.
A determined effort from the five leaders saw their advantage extend slightly before, heading into the final 20km of the stage, Andrew Fenn (Aqua Blue Sport) and Charles Planet (Team Novo Nordisk) attacked to go clear as Van Hooydonck and the rest of the early breakaway were swept up by the peloton.
As the race reached the final 10km, it was only Fenn who remained out in front, holding onto a narrow advantage and just one kilometer later, the race was back together and heading for a fast and furious run into the line.
After being protected by the rest of his BMC Racing Team teammates in the peloton, Drucker was guided up to the front of the bunch by Nicolas Roche and Francisco Ventoso with 4km to go, but with riders jostling for position all the way down the finishing straight, it was a hectic finale.
In the end, it was Dylan Groenewegen (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) who took the win beating Magnus Cort Nielsen (Astana Pro Team) and Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) to the line. While Vliegen was BMC Racing Team’s top-placed rider securing tenth on the line ahead of Drucker who was blocked in the final sprint.
Bohli was involved in a crash in the middle of the peloton with just over 7km to go but was able to get back on his bike and finish the stage.
Quotes From the Finish Line
“It was not too hard a day for us. The bunch controlled the five-rider breakaway, and it was really good for us that Nathan Van Hooydonck was in that group. Then, we came into the sprint, and in the final kilometer, I tried to help Jempy Drucker for his sprint, but it was pretty hectic. In the last 300 meters, I was a bit blocked, so I had to stop my sprint. Overall, for my first race of the year, I was feeling good, and I felt like I had power in my legs for when I needed to push. Today was completely flat with no wind so it wasn’t too hard and I am looking forward to the harder stage to come, and hopefully there I will be able to really see how my condition is.”
Nathan Van Hooydonck:
“It was a good day for me. I went full gas off the front of the peloton and straight away I found myself in the breakaway. At first, it was just three guys, and then we waited a little bit, and the group grew to five riders. The pace in the breakaway wasn’t that fast actually, and so, I went for some of the bonus seconds. It was a good first day of racing for me, and I am happy with how I raced. Now, I am looking forward to the rest of the week.”
"I’m disappointed with how the stage finished for me. Nicolas Roche and Fran Ventoso did an incredible job keeping me up there against all the big sprinters’ trains, but then I got stuck behind Adam Blythe (Aqua Blue Sport) who had a mechanical, so I couldn’t really sprint in the end."
Sports Director, Maximilian Sciandri:
“It was a good day out in the breakaway for Nathan Van Hooydonck today. Our plan this morning was that almost everyone would try something to get in the breakaway, but it was good to see Nathan in there and also get a few bonus seconds. It was unlucky that Tom Bohli was caught up in that late crash, but he seems to be okay. We had Jempy Drucker primed for the sprint but it was a hectic finish and, in the end, we saw Loïc Vliegen testing his legs a little to get a top ten finish.”
Stage 1: Skydive Dubai > Palm Jumeirah, 167km
Top 3: 1. Dylan Groenewegen (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) 2. Magnus Cort Nielsen (Astana Pro Team) 3. Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors)