Sunweb’s Phil Bauhaus tops an all-German podium on Stage 3 while previous stage winner Elia Viviani of Quick-Step remains overall race leader …
A last minute inside surge to the line fell just short for Marcel Kittel, who remains winless in his first year with Katusha-Alpecin. Another metre and the former Quick-Step rider would have successfully defended on the same stage finish as the previous year.
However, it was fellow countryman Phil Bauhaus (Team Sunweb) who took the win on an all German podium, which also included Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe), on Stage 3 of the fourth annual Abu Dhabi Tour (UCI 2.UWT) on Friday.
“It’s very disappointing, but today was the first day where I felt normal,” admitted Kittel, who claimed his best result in 2018 with the previous being a third-place at the Dubai Tour two weeks ago. “I struggled a bit with myself, I don’t know why, maybe the heat. I’m very optimistic and this is the first good opportunity for us where we could smell the victory … just 1000th of a second too late.”
For new youth classification leader Bauhaus, the third and final sprint stage (133km) was a testament to a productive pre-race training regime.
“It’s hard to expect a win in such a star-studded field of sprinters, but I knew I had a very good team here,” explained the 23-year-old Critérium du Dauphiné stage winner. “I also knew I worked really well at home before coming to Abu Dhabi, so my goal was to make the podium once or win a stage.
“I’m really happy it worked out today,” he continued. “It’s a relief for the team to get the first win of the year. I hope it continues like this tomorrow with Tom Dumoulin and Wilco Kelderman in the time trial and the last stage.”
Saturday’s penultimate stage consists of a 12.6km individual time trial, in which all eyes will be on last year’s Giro d’Italia winner and reigning world time trial champion Dumoulin.
With just two stages remaining, including Sunday’s queen stage featuring the race’s only climbing day, Stage 2 winner and recent Dubai Tour champion Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) holds a lead over opening stage winner Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates) in both the general classification (+0:03) and points for another day.
“We did a good job again as a team with lead out men Alvaro Hodeg and Fabio Sabatini,” said the 2016 Olympic Omnium champion, who finished fourth on the day ahead of Australian Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott).
“We came out of the last corner at the front, but in this Abu Dhabi Tour, the win is always a factor.
“It was another head wind sprint,” he continued. “Bauhaus had the strength to come from the back. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose, we have to accept it.