Dubai Tour 2017: crosswinds and chaos as John Degenkolb wins stage three

Desert sandstorm strikes, but Classics ace fires early warning to his spring rivals with victory

John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) won stage three of the Dubai Tour, after a day beset by crosswinds and a sandstorm.

While race leader Marcel Kittel (QuickStep Floors) and Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) ran out of legs for the final sprint, after a day which had seen echelons form as sand was blown across the desert roads, Degenkolb proved his penchant for the difficult days.

The German’s first victory for his new team means he trails Kittel by ten seconds overall, with the stage at Hatta Dam – which he won in 2015 – next on the agenda, and ten bonus seconds up for grabs.

John Degenkolb proved his penchant for difficult days by winning stage three of the Dubai Tour (pic: ANSA/RCS Sport)

The other Manxman on show in Dubai, Mark Christian (Aqua Blue Sport) booked himself some more TV time in the day’s break, where he was joined by British time trial champion Alex Dowsett (Movistar).

Loic Vliegen (BMC Racing) and Luka Pibernik (Bahrain-Merida) also went clear, and the break’s advantage grew to more than five minutes at its peak.

But little could have prepared the riders for what was to come, after the relative calm of stage two was replaced by a brutal test of their ability in the crosswinds.

Sand and debris was strewn across the road, while Marcel Kittel suffered a cut above his eye after being elbowed in the face by Astana’s Andriy Grivko – who has been kicked out of the race – as a frenetic pace was set and echelons formed.

With the racing hard, there was little time for a trip to the medic’s car, not least because Kittel had to chase back on to a group containing Cavendish – who, as ever, appeared at home in the crosswinds.

The sandstorm continued to wreak havoc, as teams in the front chasing group tried to strike home an advantage – an average speed of 65km/h meaning the distance to Dowsett and Christian’s breakaway rapidly shrunk.

The pace finally relented as riders approached the UCI commissaire to discuss the worsening conditions and Kittel’s injury and when the pace relented, the German was finally able to get bandaged up.

It also allowed the peloton to regroup, with the three groups that had formed coming back together after the impromptu neutralisation.

After the chaos in the desert, the return to the built-up areas proved to be the calm after the sandstorm, and the stage proceeded largely as had been expected from then on.

The gap to Dowsett and Christian’s group still stood at 47 seconds as the Movistar man bagged his second set of bonus seconds at the final intermediate sprint, outsprinting Vliegen at 17km to go.

Dowsett was the first to sit up in the break and the remaining escapees were swept up on the long, straight roads with little more than three kilometres remaining.

Both Kittel and Cavendish’s sprint trains came to the fore, but with the peloton strung out after a small hill and long tunnel with 2.5km to go, neither of the two fast men were with their team-mates.

Reinardt Janse van Rensburg took on sprinting duties for Dimension Data instead, but Degenkolb pipped him on the line to record his first win in Trek-Segafredo colours.

Once again, British champion Adam Blythe (Aqua Blue Sport) was inside the top ten, while three Brits – Dowsett, Cavendish and Tom Stewart (ONE Pro Cycling) sit in the top ten overall.

Dubai Tour 2017: stage three – result

1) John Degenkolb (GER) – Trek-Segafredo – 4.03.08hrs
2) Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (RSA) – Dimension Data – ST
3) Sonny Colbrelli (ITA) – Bahrain-Merida
4) Juan Jose Lobato (ESP) – LottoNL-Jumbo
5) Riccardo Minali (ITA) – Astana
6) Jempy Drucker (LUX) – BMC Racing
7) Elia Viviani (ITA) – Team Sky
8) Dylan Groenewegen (NED) – LottoNL-Jumbo
9) Adam Blythe (GBR) – Aqua Blue Sport
10) Daniele Bennati (ITA) – Movistar

General classification

1) Marcel Kittel (GER) – QuickStep Floors – 12.34.54hrs
2) Dylan Groenewegen (NED) – LottoNL-Jumbo +8”
3) John Degenkolb (GER) – Trek-Segafredo +10”
4) Nicola Boem (ITA) – Bardiani-CSF +13”
5) Jempy Drucker (LUX) – BMC Racing +14”
6) Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (RSA) – Dimension Data – ST
7) Alex Dowsett (GBR) – Movistar
8) Tom Stewart (GBR) – ONE Pro Cycling
9) Jakub Mareczko (ITA) – Wilier-Triestina +16”
10) Mark Cavendish (GBR) – Dimension Data – ST


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