Dubai Tour: Colbrelli sprints to uphill stage win atop Hatta Dam

Dubai Tour: Colbrelli sprints to uphill stage win atop Hatta Dam

09/02/2018 at 19:20Updated 09/02/2018 at 20:49

Bahrain-Merida’s Sonny Colbrelli takes penultimate stage in dramatic final as Astana’s Magnus Cort finishes second to take white youth jersey and move within two seconds of race lead …

Italian Sonny Colbrelli bolted to the top of the Hatta Dam in the final 50 metres of a brutal uphill finish on the penultimate stage of the five-day Dubai Tour on Friday.

The 27-year-old Bahrain-Merida rider led a surging chase group up the 500m climb to overtake the sole remaining rider from a six-rider break that launched in the opening salvo of the 172km fourth stage from Skydive Dubai to Hatta along the Omani border.

“I really wanted to repay my team for the excellent work they had done for me since the very beginning of the Dubai Tour,” Colbrelli said after the stage. “Vincenzo Nibali has had a decisive role in the finale today.

“It’s great to have him along,” he continued. “He’s the first who’s ready to disrupt the plans of the pure sprinters and I hope the work he’s doing here will help him reach his goals this year.”

Colbrelli’s win did not come without its own complications. His 19th career pro win came despite an issue with his bike inside the final 20km.

“I had a mechanical problem with 20km to go,” explained Colbrelli. “But I chose to keep the same bike and ride on the 53 gear until the end but it was very difficult to finish it off. The last 50 meters were never ending.”

American Brandon McNulty (Rally Cycling) produced a heroic effort as the last man standing of a spent and swallowed break. Unfortunately, McNulty was caught while zig-zagging up the final climb, which featured gradients between 12 and 17 percent in the final 200m.

“It was a hard finish as expected and a faster stage than I thought,” Cort told Eurosport. “We had a strong break out there … it was unbelievably close to getting to the line.

“It is a brutal finish,” continued the former Orica rider, who compared the climb on the Frederikssundsvej stage at the Tour of Denmark. “But also you know you finish exactly on the top so you don’t have to save anything for a flat part or something else you just ago to the top.

“I had something in the legs when I turned right, and from there I got second on the climb and [got a] really good result.”

The early season form is a surprise to Cort, who found himself requiring surgery following a training crash late last year.

“Very good way to start on the new team to show I’m here and I’m ready — especially [after] a broken collarbone in December during training,” he shared. “I think lying there in a hospital and needing an operation, I did not expect to be in such shape I am in now — for sure I am in good shape and you can see that — I am very happy.”

The race finale concludes with Stage 5 on Saturday, a 132km pancake flat parcours in what is expected to result in the fourth bunch sprint of the UCI 2.HC Asia Tour road race. For Viviani, he has a chance to give Quick-Step its fourth straight win at Dubai Tour, after Cavendish in 2015 and Kittel the past two years. But it won’t be easy according to the recently turned 29-year-old Olympic gold medallist.

“At the end of the day, it’s better to have an advantage of two seconds on Magnus Cort Nielsen than four seconds on Marcel Kittel or Mark Cavendish ahead of the last stage,” said Viviani. “I think I’ll sleep well tonight because I have a great team to defend my leading position.

“My main goal tomorrow can be to win the sprint,” he added. “It would be the ideal way to finish the Dubai Tour.”