Van Hooydonck Moves Up to Third Overall as Drucker Sprints to 8th on Dubai Tour Stage 27. February 2018, Ras Al Khaimah (UAE) — Road Team
Nathan Van Hooydonck was back in action in the breakaway at the Dubai Tour today, securing four bonus seconds that helped him move up to third overall on the General Classification while, in the predicted bunch sprint, Jempy Drucker battled it out to finish eighth on the stage.
It was another lively start to the day on stage 2 with the first attack flying off the front of the peloton as soon as the flag dropped. Van Hooydonck responded quickly to the early move and, after a handful of other riders bridged across, he found himself back out at the front of the race for a second consecutive day as part of a six-rider breakaway.
After covering just 10km, of the 190km course, and with the peloton happy with the composition of the front group, the leaders' advantage began to grow quickly, peaking at over seven minutes before eventually it was brought back under control and settled at around four minutes with 150km of racing still to come.
Heading into the second half of the stage, the peloton once again picked up the pace and pulled the Van Hooydonck-led breakaway back to within three minutes as attention began to turn to the potential bunch sprint at the finish line in Ras Al Khaimah.
For the first time since the start of the day, the gap fell to around the one-minute mark with 50km to go as Van Hooydonck slipped back into the peloton and three riders from the early breakaway continued to forge ahead before finally being pulled back approaching the final 10km of the day.
With the stage set for another fast finish, the sprinters’ teams began to form their lead out trains at the head of the bunch, and at the same time, BMC Racing Team began to guide Drucker up to the front. However, it was a battle for space in the closing kilometers of the stage with riders spread out all across the wide roads on the run into the line.
As the race hit the finishing straight, Drucker was tucked behind the wheel of Francisco Ventoso, who shepherded him into position for the moment the sprint was launched. The Luxembourgish rider looked strong as he powered through the bunch towards the finish, eventually crossing the line eighth behind the day's winner, Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors).
Behind Drucker, Van Hooydonck finished safely in the bunch and, following another solid day in the breakaway, where he was able to pick up four bonus seconds, the young Belgian rider now sits third overall on the General Classification, nine seconds behind race leader, Groenewegen.
Van Hooydonck also now leads the Intermediate Sprint Classification.
Quotes From the Finish Line
Nathan Van Hooydonck:
"I'm pretty happy with how it went today. Yesterday, I was feeling good, and the pace in the breakaway was not too high, so I decided today that if I felt good in the neutral zone, I would give it another try. At first, we were only with three riders and with 190km of racing to cover, I was happy that the three other guys bridged across. I felt good during today's stage, and I was able to take four bonus seconds, which was the most important thing. Of course, the Points Classification jersey is nice to have but for sure, sitting third overall on the GC is more important. The jersey is more of a bonus. But, of course, if I get the chance to win the jersey, I will defend it."
"I think at this race maybe the peloton lets you go in the breakaway a little easier. They know it's going to be a bunch sprint at the end, so some guys maybe don't see the point in going in the breakaway but to improve my shape going into the rest of the season, it is good. You get to put in some real work."
"In the final kilometers, there were riders everywhere, and it was difficult to find your way. Fran did a really good job to bring me into a good position and also the rest of the team were great before that keeping me out of the wind. Eighth is good, but I think I can do better. It was a chaotic finale, and it was difficult to find the right spot, but I can build up on this. It's good to know at the start of the season that my shape is there but also that I know I can continue to improve. This race is perfect for getting back into the race rhythm. It is not super hard all day and only in the final is it chaotic."
Stage 2: Skydive Dubai > Ras Al Khaimah, 190km
Top 3: 1. Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) 2. Dylan Groenewegen (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) 3. Riccardo Minali (Astana Pro Team)