HATTA // Juan Jose Lobato produced a last ditch sprint to win the Westin Stage of the Dubai Tour 2016 in Hatta on a day that saw last year’s winner Mark Cavendish all but surrender his title.
The Spanish rider started the day 10 seconds behind overnight leader Elia Viviani, and now finds himself second in the overall standings, two seconds off Giacomo Nizzolo who finished second in Hatta.
BMC Racing Team’s Silvan Dillier of Switzerland came in third.
Etixx Quick-Step rider Marcel Kittel’s sixth place left him third in the overall standings.
“My teammates at Movistar are the ones that allowed me to win this,” Lobato said.
“Sure, we were wary of some of the Italian riders, whether the BMC riders or Elia Viviani, and Astana who were leading the race as we came into last 15 kilometres until the last turn. The last three kilometres were the most important challenge when entering the climbs in Hatta.”
The big winner of the day was Nizzolo of Trek-Segafredo, who overtook Viviani to lead the overall time classification.
Nizzolo’s six second bonus for being runner-up on the stage means he enters the Business Bay Stage wearing the blue jersey.
He also moved to the top of the red jersey for leading the points classification with 38, followed by Kittel on 30 and Viviani 28.
“What can I say, after two flat stages where I was third, to be on the podium again today is a great pleasure,” he said. “It means my form is in a good way. Tonight I’m the leader and I will enjoy the jersey, and tomorrow we will fight.
“We will work hard to win the jersey, and I think we will do it.”
Cavendish struggled on the stage and was 93rd across the line, 5 minutes, 15 seconds after Lobato had finished.
He will start today in 90th place overall, 5.21 off the lead, and with a relatively flat stage expected to be dominated by the sprinters, little chance of making up the ground needed to win the event.
Philippe Gilbert was the pre-stage favourite, with likes of Giovanni Visconti and other pure climbers expected to stand out. The Belgian led briefly in the last kilometre but was beaten by Nizzolo’s determined final dash before eventually dropping to fifth.
Nizzolo joked that the Italian sprinters are importing the Giro d’Italia to Dubai.
“It looks like it, yesterday the first four places were Italian riders, today it changed a bit, a Spanish guy won,” he said. “Tomorrow we will try to bring Italy the jersey.”
For the third day running, Soufiane Haddi of Skydive Dubai Pro Cycling Team — Al Ahli Club took the white jersey for best young rider while Marcin Bialoblocki of One Pro Cycling retained the flag jersey for the intermediate sprint classification.
“Yesterday was great day for me and the team,” Polish rider Bialoblocki said. “Today the plan was to keep the jersey, make sure that no one from the dangerous group fighting for the jersey gets the break, and we did it. It all went perfect and we’re very happy.”
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