By David Hunter
Dubai – Dubai 132km
The race ends with a short and snappy stage around the streets of Dubai.
Another stage that will end in a sprint finish.
In the closing 5km, the peloton roll along wide roads. This allows the sprint trains plenty of space and it’s easy to move up the bunch. Teams with a long train will be able to dominate the closing stages.
There will be a big rush for the corner with 1.2km to go, once through this we are still on wide roads and it is possible to make up some positions. We then have a final corner with 400m remaining, there isn’t time to make up ground at this point. Ideally, you enter this corner with one man still in front of you.
Another pleasant day for the bunch.
Elia Viviani – after a solid performance on Hatta Dam, the Italian is in prime position. He leads Cort by 2 seconds, Colbrelli is 4 seconds behind and Bouhanni is at 8. These are his main rivals for the GC. With 10, 6 and 4 available on the line, Viviani needs to have a good day. If he finishes 3rd and Cort is 2nd, they will be joint on time, but Viviani would win on count back. Each stage we have seen a strong performance by the QuickStep train and I expect to see them deliver Viviani into a prime position and he will make the podium. That will be enough to seal the GC, but he’ll want another stage win.
Dylan Groenewegen – the Dutchman was very strong on stages 1 and 2, but was misplaced on stage 3. As I have mentioned before, using a short train means it is hard to remain consistent. He can count on the help of Jansen and Roosen, two riders with a huge amount of power. I think they’ll get it right tomorrow and Groenewegen will be sprinting for the win.
Mark Cavendish – he’ll be full of confidence after taking a great win on Thursday. Cav is a rider that feeds off wins and he’ll be fired up to take another one. Everyone knows that his big goals lie further ahead, but he’ll relish the chance of striking another blow to the confidence of Kittel. Dimension Data are still getting used to their new train, but they continue to improve and I think we’ll see them get it right in this stage.
Marcel Kittel – we all know that Kittel is a fragile sprinter. When things are going his way, he is unstoppable, but what happens to him when things don’t go his way? His weak mindset means that when the chips are down, he is posted missing. Compare him to a Cavendish, the Manx Missile is a fighter. When things go against Cav, he stands up and fights back, this doesn’t happen with Kittel. After four disappointing stages, he will not be in the best head space and I don’t see it getting any better. He hasn’t clicked with his train and I think it’s his fault, not that of his teammates. They need to go away and spend a lot of time working together, as they are way off the standard required to win big stages.
Magnus Cort Nielsen – the Dane has enjoyed a great week and has a small chance of winning the GC. To do so, I think he really needs to win the stage, something that will be hard to do. Finishing 2nd would still be a great result for him and his new team.
Sonny Colbrelli – Katusha take note, Bahrain have spent a lot of time perfecting their sprint train. With Bole, Bozic and Garcia Cortina they have the speed to rival most other teams. After a brilliant win today, Colbrelli will be full of confidence, but it’s still almost impossible for him to win a flat sprint against these sprinters. He’s another rider that will leave this race full of confidence.
Nacer Bouhanni – the Frenchman has quietly been improving throughout this race. He was 2nd on Thursday and 8th on Hatta Dam. He has an outside chance of winning the GC, but after his performance on Thursday, he certainly has a chance of taking the stage. A lot will depend on his sprint train, they did impressive the other day.
Cavendish is like a dog that smells blood. Once he gets a win, he is very hard to beat. I think he’ll take another stage and Viviani will do enough to win the GC.
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