German sprint king, Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano), continued to show the way home to the world’s fastest men by winning the fourth stage of the Dubai Tour, while Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) rolled in untroubled to seal overall victory in the inaugural race.
Having followed victory in the season-opening People’s Choice Classic with victory on stages two and three of the Dubai Tour, Kittel claimed his fourth win of 2014 in a chaotic finish that saw his fiercest rival, Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), hit a bollard in the finale, knocking off his chain.
Kittel, finding himself momentarily bereft of team-mates, continued his charge before being towed into position by lead-out man, Tom Veelers, while Mark Renshaw was forced to fill the leading role reluctantly vacated by OPQS team-mate, Cavendish.
“I’m super happy to win again but it was all down to my team, they did another great job here today,” said Kittel following the finish.
“I lost the boys with just over two kilometres to go but Tom Veelers did an amazing job to bring me back to the front and from there they put me in a perfect position.
“It was amazing how Tom Veelers brought me back to the front. Like out of nowhere, the rest of the team where there to do the lead-out. I think that today we did a brilliant job as a team, a big thank you to my team.”
Cavendish was left to rue what might have been after enjoying a near perfect lead out in the closing kilometres, with five of his team-mates on the front as the peloton powered past the 3km to go kite, and three men leading as it passed beneath the flamme rouge.
The British champion praised his team, adding that the more forgiving infrastructure of Dubai has saved him from serious injury.
“I hit some bollard in the road and I’ve got a swollen hand and it ripped the chain out of my rear mech. I just count myself lucky because if it was a concrete or a metal one like in Europe, I wouldn’t be here to talk about it right now,” the Manx Missile said.
For Phinney, however, events in Dubai ended on the same even tenor on which they had begun. The 23-year-old maintained a 15-second lead over his British team-mate, Steve Cummings, and wrapped up a first senior stage race victory.
The two Britons behind Phinney’s victory, Cummings and directeur sportif, Max Sciandri, praised the former US time trial champion, who ascribed his success to a solid winter’s training in Colorado.
Cummings said: “Taylor was outstanding, so it’s pretty good to finish second to him when he’s so strong in the time trial. I thought the whole team rode really well as a unit and gelled well.”
Sciandri added that the quality of the field meant victory had been far from easy, but said a race that opened with a time trial was always likely to give his team a chance. “I kind of knew that the time trial was going to determine the overall of this race – a bit like in China (the Tour of Beijing) the first year, when they had a time trial. So that was planned really well and executed to perfection by two of our guys.”
Cycling’s elite teams will remain in the Middle East for the Tour of Qatar, which starts tomorrow. The Tour of Oman, at which Britain’s Chris Froome will begin a season intended to deliver him to the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in Yorkshire in peak form in July at the Tour of Oman on February 18.
Dubai Tour 2014: stage four – report
1) Marcel Kittel (GER) – Giant-Shimano – 2.41.09
2) Mark Renshaw (AUS) – Omega Pharma-QuickStep – ST
3) Andrea Guardini (ITA) – Astana
4) Roberto Ferrari (ITA) – Lampre-Merida
5) Alexandr Porsev (RUS) – Katusha
6) Daniele Ratto (ITA) – Cannondale
7) Niccolo Bonifazio (ITA) – Lampre-Merida
8) Takashi Miyazawa (JAP) – Saxo-Tinkoff
9) Lucas Sebastian Haedo (COL) – Cannondale
10) Juan Jose Lobato (ESP) – Movistar
Final general classification
1) Taylor Phinney (USA) – BMC Racing – 9.31.33
2) Steve Cummings (GBR) – BMC Racing +15″
3) Lasse Norman Hansen (DEN) – Garmin-Sharp +17″
4) Tony Martin (GER) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep +23″
5) Fabian Cancellara (SUI) – Trek +30″
6) Marcel Kittel (GER) – Giant-Shimano – ST
7) Adriano Malori (ITA) – Movistar +37″
8) Maciej Bodnar (POL) – Cannondale +40″
9) Peter Velits (SLO) – BMC Racing +42″
10) Dylan Van Baarle (NED) – Garmin-Sharp +42″