Thrilling Finale to the Dubai Tour Queen Stage9. February 2018, Hatta (UAE) — Road Team
The Dubai Tour queen stage came down to a thrilling finale on the steep final climb up the Hatta Dam today with BMC Racing Team well-represented at the front of the race, securing three top ten finishes and placing more riders into the top ten overall.
In a similar style to the previous three days, the first attack flew off the front of the peloton the moment the flag dropped on stage 4 and, after covering just 5km, of the 172km course, six riders had gone clear and began to build up an advantage over the main bunch.
After 50km of racing, the breakaway was sitting well over six minutes ahead of the peloton. But with a showdown expected on the steep ramps of Hatta Dam, the peloton picked up the pace heading into the second half of the stage and pulled the three remaining leaders back to within four minutes with 40km to go.
The breakaway was holding onto a three-minute advantage heading into the final 20km of the day. However, with the peloton starting to pile on the pressure behind, the gap began to fall quickly on the approach to the two testing kick ups which came with 11km and 9km to go respectively.
On the final run into the base of the short but sharp climb up to the finish on Hatta Dam, with gradients touching 17%, Brandon McNulty (Rally Cycling) remained just over one minute ahead of a reduced bunch that still included all seven BMC Racing Team riders.
As the ascent to the finish line came into view, the race was gearing up for a nail-biting finish with McNulty holding onto a lead of just a handful of seconds. In the end, a brutal uphill battle saw the Rally Cycling rider was caught just meters before the finish with Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team) taking the day’s honors ahead of Magnus Cort Nielsen (Astana Pro Team) and Timo Roosen (Team LottoNL-Jumbo).
BMC Racing Team had numbers up at the front of the race when the final sprint was launched with Tom Bohli the team’s best-placed rider crossing in seventh place ahead of Loïc Vliegen in ninth and Nathan Van Hooydonck, who rounded out the top ten.
The stage results saw a shake-up of the General Classification with Van Hooydonck slipping into fourth overall, seven seconds behind race leader, Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors), with one stage remaining. Vliegen continues to sit sixth, eight seconds back, while equally strong finishes from Jempy Drucker and Dylan Teuns saw them move into ninth and tenth place respectively.
Van Hooydonck continues to lead the Intermediate Sprint Classification.
Quotes From the Finish Line
Nathan Van Hooydonck:
"It was a hard stage today. At the finish, I went over the limit, and I actually had to lie down at the end there. I came from around 30th position when I started the climb up to tenth, so I am happy with that. This week, I think that I have proven that I am a strong competitor and that my condition is good at this early point in the season and I think it will only improve in Oman next week. I think I have shown that I have the strength to go there and help achieve the team's goals."
"I was feeling pretty good today, and in the end, I was expecting a better result, but with 500m to go, I made a slight mistake and lost a couple of meters so when I started my sprint, I wasn't in the best position. I am pretty happy with how my condition has been here. Yesterday, I already felt like my legs were turning good and today was a bit harder, so I could test myself again, and my body responded well. This race has shown me that I am prepared for the work I have to do in the races to come and I think my shape will only continue to improve."
"In the finish, I wasn't in the best place as I was always at the back of the group, but once the final climb started, my legs felt good, and I could move up to the front. It's still the beginning of the season, and my form is still improving, but I was happy that I could be in that position today. In the end, it was a really nervous atmosphere in the peloton, and a few guys were on the limit."
Sports Director, Maximilian Sciandri:
"This was the first real test for a lot of our guys, everyone had a go, and we did what we could in the finish. We will see what happens regarding the GC tomorrow, as with another bunch sprint, something could change, but overall, I think we can come away from this race happy. Everyone has given their maximum so far and it has been a positive start to the season."
Stage 4: Skydive Dubai > Hatta Dam, 172km
Top 3: 1. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team) 2. Magnus Cort Nielsen (Astana Pro Team) 3. Timo Roosen (Tea LottoNL-Jumbo)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 7. Tom Bohli 9. Loïc Vliegen 10. Nathan Van Hooydonck