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Italians hold sway on day 4
February 10, 2018
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HATTA: Italian Sonny Colbrelli won Friday’s fourth stage of the Dubai Tour in an uphill sprint finish as compatriot Elia Viviani maintained the overall lead.

Colbrelli surged clear on the finish to Hatta Dam ahead of Dane Magnus Cort Nielsen and Timo Rodsen of the Netherlands after lone escapee Brandon McNulty was hauled in shortly before the finish.

The 19-year-old lost a 45-second lead on the short final climb at the end of the 172km stage.

Viviani finished sixth on the stage and now leads Cort Nielsen by two seconds overall with Colbrelli third at 4sec.

Speaking seconds after the stage finish, Colbrelli said: “I really wanted to win today because the team has been working for me since day one. I was close yesterday. Today, again, Bahrain-Merida has done a great job.

“I launched the sprint from very far out because I had a mechanical and I was stuck on the 53. I couldn’t wait for this race to end. The last 50 metres looked to me like an infinity. This victory means a lot for my team and is very important for my morale. Even without being the favorites, we raced as a team like leaders.”

Meanwhile, Viviani said: “The race isn’t over yet. Two seconds advantage over Cort Nielsen isn’t much, considering how strong he is… but we have a strong team. It was the case again to close the gap on the breakaway riders. I’m happy with the result because the goal was to defend the Blue Jjersey. I think I couldn’t do more than this. When Colbrelli went, I thought my legs were dying. I just have to do my best sprint tomorrow to win the Dubai Tour and possibly another stage.”

Kristoff in fourth

The UAE Team Emirates’ Alexander Kristoff, meanwhile, showed why the team were desperate to secure his services for this season, as the rider once again featured in the top five during stage four on the Dubai Tour.

Kristoff, the reigning European Champion battled against the attacking peloton as they frantically tried to reign in the sole break away rider in the final kilometres. Coming into the final 300 metres, the drawn out, blue-jersey bunch, tackled a steep ascent with Kristoff driving forward to cross the line narrowly missing out on a third place podium finish.

The race had seen an early attack test the resilience of the peloton for over 100km and it looked like one of the breakaway riders could secure a victory, in what would have been a first for the Dubai Tour. But with just 25 meters to go, the lone rider was caught by the sprinters and the race was eventually won in dramatic fashion by Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida Pro Cycling Team).

Reflecting on the penultimate race and another top five finish, Alexander Kristoff commented; “I’m pretty satisfied with fourth place. Whilst a podium position would have been a great way to end a great race, I prefer to focus my attention on the fact that I’m producing consistent performances in the top 10.

“My team-mates were fantastic leading me to the approach of Hatta Dam, especially Sven Erik Bystrom and Matteo Bono who both did a really impressive job. My legs were fairly good, but maybe the final few meters were too heavy for me.”

Commenting on his team-mates performance, UAE National Champion Yousif Mirza said; “The team is really proud of Alexander, who fought so hard on a very steep hill against riders who were much lighter than him.

He missed out on the podium but I feel he demonstrated that he’s a class rider and I’d love for him to get the result he deserves in the final stage tomorrow.”

With honours still to play for, the tour will go down to Saturday’s final stage — a 129km sprint that will see riders depart from SkyDive Dubai heading for a finish at City Walk. Fans will be able to catch a glimpse of their favourite UAE Team Emirates’ riders as they go past Meydan Racecourse and Mushrif Park, before heading back towards the coast for a sprint along Jumeirah Road and a finish overlooking the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa.

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