After being beaten by Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) on stage 2 of the UAE Tour, Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-QuickStep) was able to turn the tables three days later on the seafront in Khor Fakkan and beat his former teammate and track racing rival. The win is Viviani’s 70th of his professional career and the third of the 2019 season after victories at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and Tour Down Under last month.
Deceuninck-QuickStep used their leadout train to full effect on Thursday afternoon in Khor Fakkan before Viviani made his late run to the line. Viviani had to navigate around his slower rivals, with sprinters all across the road, but came through to take the win by a similar margin to what he had lost by only a few days ago.
“[Fabio] Sabatini and [Michael] Morkov did a really amazing job so just [Alexander] Kristoff was with us,” Viviani said. “When I saw all these sprinters in one line, I had the feeling that the right side was my place. I had the feeling that I didn’t have time to jump everyone, but I saw the last 30 metres that I really was going faster. That was a really good photo for the finish with five sprinters on the line. I’m really proud to win this sprint.”
On Monday, Viviani chose to use the wheel of Gaviria as his springboard rather than his usual train. It looked like it might work into the headwind but he didn’t have the pace to overhaul Gaviria in the final 100 metres. For Thursday’s stage, the Italian decided to change tactics.
“Today, we changed tactics, but every sprint is different,” Viviani explained.
“The boys did an amazing job and we really wanted to demonstrate that we can win and we can beat everyone. The boys always do what I ask, probably sometimes I ask something wrong, but we can’t always win.
“I asked for a proper leadout, but to start the sprint really late. We didn’t take the risk that we slow down and they can jump us from the back. Morkov started with 500 metres to go, [Dries] Devenyns did an amazing job until then, but in the same moment Kristoff anticipated us on the left and that created a little bit of, not confusion, but all the sprinters were coming up. It was not a clear sprint. In the end, when we were all in one line, I had to wait, not panic and wait for a good moment.”
The UAE Tour returns to the mountains for the summit finish of Jebel Jais on Friday before the sprinters will have another shot at victory in Saturday’s stage into Dubai.