Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), clad in the stripes of world champion, was never likely simply to take it easy in Dubai. Hot weather training ahead of a programme which will ultimately lead to the Tour de France was his chief priority, but Costa appears determined to give the rainbow jersey a good showing on the Emirate. He had already come to the front of the race long before the attacks and counter-attacks started and it was unsurprising to find him in the thick of the action.
His acceleration in the last three kilometres showed he had more in mind than just a training ride, even if it did prove to be short-lived. Nevertheless, as he returned to the bunch, a statement had clearly been made – Costa will be a man on a mission in 2014. His predecessor in the rainbow stripes, Philippe Gilbert, endured a frustrating year as world champion, but Costa is already showing there will be no let-up in the aggressive riding style which earned him Tour de Suisse success, two Tour de France stages and the most prestigious of all one-day race victories next season.