Juan Jose Lobato finished third place in the overall classification, while his Movistar team secured the best overall team award at the Dubai Tour on Saturday. The Spaniard says their strong performances were a result of the hard work each rider put into their training during the winter, and a sign of better performances to come.
“I’m not disappointed about finishing just third - we came here with a GC podium as a goal and it happened. Actually, I’m really happy about the work my teammates delivered all race,” Lobato said in a team press release.
“Being all of us together on the podium as the winning team makes me happier than that third spot. This week was a confirmation of the whole squad’s efforts early this season and also proof of our great atmosphere, at races and also outside.”
Marcel Kittel won two stages and the overall title by four seconds ahead of Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) and six seconds ahead of Lobato. Although he finished outside the top 10 in the opening two stages, his victory in stage 3 atop Hotta Dam was what bumped him up into contention for the overall win, second place behind Nizzolo heading into the final stage.
He said the final sprint during stage 4 was a little hectic and he wasn’t able to gain the proper position heading into the sprint and ended up in 14th, which caused him to slip to third overall.
“The stage went well and the team was perfect, but there was a lot of stress, and some touch between riders with a kilometer to go made me lose all chances to contest the day’s win.”
Kittel won the sprint and with the 10-second bonus secured the overall victory. Asked if Kittel was unbeatable this week, Lobato said, “Most probably yes, though I was feeling great today and I think we could have been closer to him than we were.”
Nonetheless, Lobato surprised himself with the win on Hotta Dam, which was a 17 per cent grade, and believes that he is in good form, and where he needs to be ahead of the spring campaign with Movistar.
“I think I’m building good form - let’s hope to keep progressing and be 100 per cent for that crucial month in the spring. This week also made me see that finishes like Hatta’s suit me better, as I’m a good sprinter yet less heavy than many rivals. I’m getting closer and closer to the top guys in the world in all finishes, though.”