The decision was immediately praised by riders on Twitter, with Movistar’s Rory Sutherland hailing an ‘important moment’ of co-operation between riders.
In a short video posted by the team, ONE Pro Cycling’s directeur sportif Matt Winston also thanked race organisers RCS Sport and the Dubai Sports Council.
“The safety of the riders is obviously paramount,” he said. “It’s a big decision from them having invested so much money but it’s appreciated from all riders and staff.”
By removing the queen stage – and only significant climb – from the race, it means race leader and double stage winner Marcel Kittel closes in on a second consecutive overall victory.
Without Hatta Dam to shake up the peloton, there’s only a pan-flat city circuit of Dubai to come, with Kittel leading by eight seconds from Dutch champion Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) and ten seconds from stage three winner John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo).
Following reports UCI regulations meant the stage could not be replaced by a time trial on Hatta Dam, BMC Racing’s Nicolas Roche – who is starting his season at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, but will travel to the UAE for the Abu Dhabi Tour later this month – suggested rules should be changed.
“Better any type of race than no race,” the Irishman wrote on Twitter.