Dubai Tour 2016 – Stage 3 Preview – Ciclismo Internacional

Dubai Tour 2016 – Stage 3 Preview

By David Hunter

Dubai – Hatta Dam 172km

dubai 3

It’s the big day for the GC. I’m sure we all remember this brilliant finish from 2015, I cannot wait myself! Last year the race was held together and the peloton arrived, as one, at the foot of the climb. There is no guarantee it happens again.

As we approach the Hatta Dam, the riders travel along a wide highway. They climb for 800m at 10%, before a short descent. Despite what the profile picture says, we have a short section of flat, before the killer last 200m. The 800m climb is a perfect spot for a late move. Quite a few riders tried this last year, but they were brought back by the peloton. It really makes sense to attack at this point, especially if you lack a massive uphill sprint.

Today’s crash really hurt Cavendish and Kittel. To win the GC they would have liked to already be 20 seconds clear of the puncheurs. The crash has denied them this opportunity. On the other hand, Gilbert and co, will be delighted about this, especially after dropping easy seconds on stage 1. Currently, Gilbert and Cancellara are 15 seconds behind Viviani and Kittel, 11 seconds behind Cavendish. With 10 seconds on offer for the stage, it looks like first over the dam will take over the race lead. However, they do need a gap on GC of over 10 seconds, to feel secure. The final sprint stage is another chance for Kittel/Cavendish to take 10 seconds. This is going to be close, very close!

Of the sprinters, only JJ Lobato will be confident of taking the win. The Spaniard was third here in 2015, despite starting the climb in a terrible position. This is a common theme for him, he really needs to sort his act out and get himself to the front of the peloton. Helping him will be Gorka Izagirre. They make a great partnership, with Izagirre helping Lobato to win in Stirling, back in 2015. I have concerns about the form of Lobato. He was very poor in Australia and hasn’t managed a proper sprint yet. They will ride for him but if he falters, Izagirre will get his chance. He has a fast uphill sprint and could easily surprise a few.

Philippe Gilbert should be the favourite for the stage. He only managed 6th here in 2015, which was a bit of a surprise. He is usually very strong when sprinting up a hill and this is a great chance for him, to take the GC and stage. He’ll have good help too, with Sylvain Dillier, a very strong teammate. I would expect Gilbert to wait for the last 200m, but BMC will pressure the sprinter teams by attacking before the finish. The Swiss rider is only 10 seconds away from the race lead, a dangerous position to be in. He should be plan B for BMC.

Fabian Cancellara is another rider the sprinters should be scared of. He is looking very lean and already took a win in Mallorca. So strong sprinting up climbs in the classics, the Trek man will be looking for a big result. He has the power and being a little lighter will be a huge help.

Simone Ponzi is the big hope for CCC. He has recently joined from Southeast, where he spent 2 seasons. He had previously been at Astana and impressed in uphill sprints. None of those sprints were 20%, but he certainly has the skill set required to challenge for the win.

Of the other sprinters, Sacha Modolo does love a hard finish. That being said, I think this is too hard for him and all the other quick men. Only Lobatto has the chance of winning it for the sprinters.

There is every chance we get a surprise win. I don’t think we have a really dominant rider or team and that can lead to chaos! Looking to take their chance will be:-

Rui Costa – Lampre

Lieuwe Westra – Astana

Matteo Trentin – Etixx

Lars Petter Nordhaug – Sky

Daniele Bennati – Tinkoff

Luca Wackermann – Al Nasr

Prediction Time

This will not be a calm run to the finish. If the sprinters want to stay in contention, on GC, they could do with the breakaway succeeding and claiming the bonus seconds. Expect to see Sky, Etixx and Dimension Data trying to attack in the final 15km. That being said, we should still get a big sprint. He was 6th in 2015 and I expect, Philippe Gilbert, to go much better and claim the victory.

David HunterFollow us on @CiclismoInterJoin us on facebook: Ciclismo Internacional

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