Showdown on Jabel Hafeet Shakes Up GC on Final Stage in Abu Dhabi25. February 2018, Jebel Hafeet, Abu Dhabi (UAE) — Road Team
The final day of racing at the Abu Dhabi Tour came down to a brutal battle on the climb up Jebel Hafeet with Rohan Dennis fighting hard all the way to the line to secure a top ten finish on the General Classification.
The first attack flew off the front of the peloton almost as soon as the flag dropped on stage 5 and, after around 10km, of the 199km course, nine riders were beginning to extend an advantage over the main bunch, which was being led by BMC Racing Team.
On the opening out and back loop from Al Ain city, the breakaway’s lead nudged over the ten-minute mark before the peloton started to pick up the pace and steadily pull the group back.
However, with 50km to go, the leaders were still almost seven minutes ahead and, as a result, a determined chase began with the final 10.8km climb looming on the horizon.
On the early slopes of Jebel Hafeet, which has a gradient that kicks up to 11% in some sections, the peloton had pulled the breakaway back to within two minutes, and with a fierce tempo being set, the field quickly exploded.
A group of around 25 riders, including Dennis and Damiano Caruso, was drawn out at the front of the bunch and with just 6km to go, the last man standing from the early breakaway was caught, and a series of stinging attacks soon followed.
With riders spread out all across the road, the BMC Racing Team duo worked hard together to try and minimize the gap to the other GC contenders up ahead with Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) eventually going on to take both the stage win and the overall victory.
After digging deep over the closing kilometers of the race, Dennis and Caruso crossed the line 1'43" behind Valverde which saw Dennis slip into ninth place overall on the General Classification.
Quotes From the Finish Line
"Today was really nervous from start to finish, and the guys were great out there. The team did everything perfectly to put me in the best position for the climb. I just simply didn’t have the legs on the climb."
"It’s obviously not nice to lose the jersey on the last day but I’m happy to be coming away from this race with a stage win, and I’m motivated looking ahead to my next races."
Abu Dhabi Tour
Stage 5: Al Ain > Jabel Hafeet, 199km
Top 3: 1. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) 2. Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Pro Team) 3. Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 22. Damiano Caruso 23. Rohan Dennis 29. Brent Bookwalter
BMC Racing Team Top 3 on GC: 9. Rohan Dennis 21. Brent Bookwalter 29 Joey Rosskopf