Two in Top Ten on GC Heading into Penultimate Stage in Dubai8. February 2018, Fujairah (UAE) — Road Team
Nathan Van Hooydonck maintained third overall on the General Classification after Dubai Tour stage 3 saw BMC Racing Team on the attack with Loïc Vliegen riding as part of the breakaway and moving up into sixth overall, while, Tom Bohli launched a solo attack on the way to the finish in Fujairah.
There was a determined effort from BMC Racing Team at the start of stage 3, with Van Hooydonck back on the offensive early alongside Bohli and Dylan Teuns. However, it was a four-rider move, including Vliegen, that was given the freedom, after 10km of racing, to go clear and begin to build up an advantage at the front of the race.
With 30km, of the 180km course, covered, the advantage of the Vliegen-led breakaway tipped over the seven-minute mark but, in a similar style to the previous two stages, the peloton soon picked up the pace, pulling the leaders back to around three minutes heading into the second half of the stage.
On the exposed roads through the desert, crosswinds split the main bunch in two and with around 75km to go, the first part of the peloton, made up of around 50 riders, was trailing Vliegen and the other early leaders by less than one minute before making the catch seven kilometers later.
In the end, the race came back together heading into the final 60km of the stage with BMC Racing Team moving up to the front of the bunch as the racing eased off on the approach to the Hajar mountains with 30km to go.
As the road kicked up, Bohli went on the attack and was able to put daylight between himself and the rest of the field. But, the gradual climb wasn’t enough to split the bunch, and in the end, after a fast descent, the race was back together with 14km to go, and another fast and furious run into the line looked inevitable.
The battle for position saw the sprinters’ teams setting up their lead out trains with 5km to go as once again Drucker was shepherded up to the front of the peloton by Francisco Ventoso. However, it was a tricky final sprint and, in the closing meters of the race, Drucker found himself boxed in as Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data) went on to take the day’s honors.
Van Hooydonck crossed the line safely in the bunch behind and remains third overall, seven seconds behind new race leader, Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors), while Vliegen moved up into sixth place on the General Classification, eight seconds back, after picking up bonus seconds during the stage.
Van Hooydonck now also leads the Best Young Rider Classification as well as the Intermediate Sprint Classification with Vliegen sitting second just two points behind him.
Quotes From the Finish Line
Nathan Van Hooydonck:
"After two days in the breakaway, my legs weren't feeling super good today if I'm honest, but I tried again at the beginning, and I was in a group of eight or nine riders with Tom Bohli, and we had a few seconds advantage. That was looking good, but the peloton chased us down and so, with other guys from the team trying to go off the front of the bunch, I decided to sit up slightly. When the peloton split, I had just taken a musette, and so I was caught out slightly and didn't have the legs at that moment to make it across on my own. Dylan Teuns was with me in the second group and helped me a lot. He did the last couple of pulls full gas to bring us back to the front group. In the final, I tried to get to the finish as safe as possible, and Dylan helped me there too. It wasn't a bad day as I am still third overall on the General Classification."
"On paper, tomorrow is the hardest stage, and I am in a good position as I already have gained some bonus seconds, but we don't know what the sprinters will do as it not too long a stage. We will see what happens and see what we can do as a team."
"Today, I was able to win the two intermediate sprints, so I took six bonus seconds which was nice. It was good to be in the breakaway, I wanted to go today, and my legs were turning well. There was a lot of wind, so the bunch came back quite early, but it was actually quite good for me. Tomorrow is maybe the hardest stage of the race. I think my condition is where I want it to be right now, I was pushing on the pedals today, and I felt good. There are a lot of strong riders here so we will we see what the tactics are heading into tomorrow and see what we can maybe do as a team."
"I felt like I was able to do some good work for the team in Australia but unfortunately I was in the crash on the first day here, so that threw me off course slightly. So, today I thought that I didn't have anything to lose, so I decided to test myself and to gain back some self-confidence and to see how my legs are spinning. Maybe today's attack was unrealistic with the fast downhill and never having an advantage of more than 20 seconds, but it was more of a move for myself and my self-esteem. If you don't try, you never know."
Stage 3: Skydive Dubai > Fujairah, 180km
Top 3: 1. Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data) 2. Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) 3. Marcel Kittel (Team Katusha - Alpecin)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 24. Jempy Drucker 25. Nicolas Roche 35. Dylan Teuns