Everyone went into today’s stage accepting that it would likely end in a mass sprint. There was simply not enough wind to create echelons, not enough riders with break-away ambitions, and not enough difficulty in the parcours to avoid the bunch rushing together for the line.
It was a day that Andre Greipel was particularly looking forward to. He had been left a bit disappointed after the opening stage, as he did not get the chance to show his sprinting skills.
In the team’s paddock before the start, he beckoned everyone together to discuss the final one more time. “We have to move up from the right side in the last two kilometers,” the experienced German sprinter said. “And then keep the train on the left side of the road.”
Coming to the front earlier would expend too much energy, he thought. Going later would be too late to contest the victory. The sprint train, consisting of Goldstein, Brändle, Dowsett, and Zabel, was prepared and ready to roll.
The team carried out the plan and arrived at the front with around two kilometers to go. However, taking the lead took significantly more energy than Greipel and his companions hoped for or anticipated.
After the finish, our ‘powerhouse’ Brändle said that despite proceeding with a lot of speed, “we started too far back. Consequently, it was a big push to get there.”
Brändle, who was impressively capable of leading the sprint train for a long time, called it a ‘very hectic final’. “We had a good plan, but we did not quite ride together to the front. Therefore, we missed a bit of power when it mattered most.”
Our German sprinter made the best out of the situation, finishing twelfth.
There are potentially two more sprints to be contested in the UAE Tour. Tomorrow, however, is the last day that is of interest to the climbers.
Pics: Sjors Beukeboom and Bettini Photo