Complete Live Report
Welcome to the final stage of the Dubai Tour 2018! We finish today with a short quick stage and will crown our overall winner, but seriously, it can't possibly be as dramatic as yesterday's finish!
Today we are on a 132 course starting at Skydive Dubai and ending on the City Walk. The course is not entirely pancake flat, but very nearly -- at one point it rises from 3 meters to a whopping 40 meters! And need we say, a bunch sprint finish is expected?
That should be "132 km" course, of course of course ......
Speaking of yesterday's stage: "heartbreaking" seems to be the word most often used on Twitter to describe it. Brandon McNulty came unbelievably close to pulling off a major upset, only to be caught and passed only meters from the finish line.
And remember, McNulty is only 19 years old. 19 years old! What maturity he showed! Can we jump on the bandwagon and predict a great future for him?
The race is underway!
The neutralized zone is done and we have the sharp start!
Here is our GC going into today's stage. With it all so close together and time bonuses involved, the final GC may well look different.
1 Elia Viviani (QuickStep) 16:00:28
2 Magnus Cort (Astana) 0:00:02
3 Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) 0:00:04
4 Nathan Van Hooydonck (BMC) 0:00:07
5 Nacer Bouhani (Cofidis) 0:00:08
6 Loic Vliegen (BMC)
7 Timo Roosen (LottoNL-Jumbo) 0:00:10
8 Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates) 0:00:14
9 Jean Pierre Drucker (BMC)
10 Dylan Teuns (BMC)
Oops, we were too hasty. No sharp start yet.
The points ranking may also change, depending on the outcome of the stage.
1 Elia Viviani (QuickStep) 46
2 Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) 42
3 Magnus Cort (Astana) 40
Now we really do have the sharp start, and as expected, the attacks have also started.
No one is really away, yet.
Lots of riders are trying desperately to get away and form a break group. But so far it is just not happening.
BMC's Van Hooydonck keeps trying to get away, but considering he is 4th in GC and only 7 seconds down, no one wants to let him do it.
Is this our break? One Aqua Blue rider has taken off, and the peloton looks to have sat up in agreement.
More riders jumping now, of course. Who knows if this group will be the right one?
Our sole leader is Dan Pearson. The other chasers have now been caught. Pearson only has a slight lead.
Christopher Williams of Novo NOrdisk has crashed badly, into a gutter and fence and what not. He looks to have caught his hand in the fence.
21 seconds for Pearson, with, of course, counter attacks all over the place.
- 117km remaining from 132km
The pace has slowed down and Pearson's gap is now up to 27 seconds.
Three riders have now jumped from the field and look to be getting away. No doubt Pearson will be glad of the company.
Williams has had to abandon the race after that crash.
Sorry, but we are still waiting for confirmation on the names of the three riders.
- 110km remaining from 132km
And here is our group:
Daniel Pearson (Aqua Blue), Sun Xiaolong (Mitchelton-BikeExchange), Quentin Valognes (Novo-Nordisk) and Nasser Almemari (Team UAE). They have 1:37 on the field.
None of these riders are in any way a threat to the GC riders.
We would like to wish our CN colleague Steve Farrand, who is in Dubai covering this race, a very Happy Birthday today!
- 103km remaining from 132km
Meanwhile, the gap is slowly creeping its way up. It is now at 2:29 with just over 103 km to go.
In the race for the Intermediate Sprints title, we have:
1 Nathan Van Hooydonck (BMC) 12
2 Simone Bevilacqua (Willier Triestina-Sella Italia) 12
3 Loic Vliegen (BMC) 10
We won't say there are huge crowds here today, but there are definitely people standing along the way watching.
Elia Viviani (QuickStep) won yesterday's stage to take the overall lead. His goal today of course is to win this closing stage and take home the overall title.
It is also a close race for the best Young Rider title
1 Magnus Cort (Astana) 16:00:30
2 Nathan Van Hooydonck (BMC) 0:00:05
3 Loic Vliegen (BMC) 0:00:06
- 92km remaining from 132km
With 92 km to go, the gap is up to nearly four and a half minutes. We doubt the peloton will want to let it get too much bigger. We certainly don't expect to see the seven minute gap we had yesterday.
NovoNordisk has announced that Williams was basically uninjured in that nasty looking crash. "Little road rash but he’ll be okay."
Yes, we know that Viviani didn't win yestrday. Sonny Colbrelli of Bahrain Merida won. We deeply apologize and go get ourselves another cup of coffee.
Sonny Colbrelli was happy to take the win yesterday atop the Hata Dam -- especially considering he had a major problem with his gearing.
The gap had edged up towards the five minute mark, and that was just too much. Bram Tankink of LottoNL-Jumbo moved to the front and has already cut some 20 seconds off the gap.
To wrap up the rankings coming into this final stage, here we see the top teams:
1 BMC 48:02:06
2 Katusha-Alpecin 0:00:44
3 UAE Team Emirates 0:01:15
Absolutely perfect weather today for this stage. 23°C, blue skies, low wind and low humiditiy.
Sprinters' bikes! Tech! Check out those chunky stems! We have PHOTOS!
The four leaders are working well together, all taking their turns in the wind.
- 68km remaining from 132km
With 68 km to go, and just over four minutes, Quick Step is leading the peloton, followed by UAE Emirates, Katusha and Cofidis.
McNulty was not the only one whose heart was broken when he was caught and passed within sight of the finish yesterday. Watch our video highlights from the stage and feel the pain again.
There is actually lots of racing on today. Dubai, Murcia and Oro y Paz. Not to mention the national championships in South Africa plus the Asian championships.
We are roughly at the halfway stage and the gap seems to have crept up again, to about 4:40.
The first intermediate sprint is coming up. Valognes could move into the lead in this ranking if he plays his cards right at the two sprints today.
Some disagreements in teh lead group. Pearson dropped back and then took off to try and grab the points. It turns out with Valognes and Sun going across virtually together.
Had Valognes won this sprint, he would have won the jersey outright. With second place, he still has a chance if he does well in the second sprint.
Apparently he thought he had worked it out with the others to let him win. That was obviously not the case. Let us just say he is one angry young man at the moment.
It looks as if Valognes did in fact finish second here. He is now 3 points behind leader Hooydonck. It is still possible for him to win the jersey, but it won't be easy.
Confirmed that Sun won ahead of Valognes and Almemari.
- 55km remaining from 132km
All that in-fighting has caused the gap to come down closer to four minutes. And now we have a bit of wind, too, just to add to the fun.
- 53km remaining from 132km
The four leaders may not be best friends any more, but they are at least co-operating again. Which they should, since the gap has dropped again to 4:00.
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- 50km remaining from 132km
50 km to go, and Tankink has been at the head of the peloton again, bringing the gap down to 3:45.
The Oro y Paz race in Colombia has two more stages to go, and the final GC is still not settled. Team Sky has good chances with Sergio Henao and young Egon Bernal.
The peloton has gotten serious at last and the gap is at 3:15 with 42 km to go.
Good crowds here in this part of the city of Dubai!
Under three minutes now, but still 40 km to go. Is it time to drag out that old cliche, "You don't want to catch them too soon"?
The sprinters' teams all lined up in the peloton. The pace is high and the field is strung out.
The next intermediate sprint will come up in about 9 km. If Valgones wins it, he takes the jersey. Will he take it this time or will the other riders make sure he doesn't -- again?
With 32 km to go, the gap is just over two minutes.
Under two minutes, with Bram Tankink still at the head of the field!
- 29km remaining from 132km
There are a lot of speed bumps along the way here. So far they have caused no problems.
29 km, 1:32
1 km to the intermediate sprint, no action yet.
No problems, though. Sun waves him on and Valognes cruises on in to take the sprint and win the jersey.
Valognes has a big grin on his face now. The peloton is only 1 minute back, though.
Pearson is alone in the lead, now. Valognes just dropped back, and the other two dropped shortly after the sprint.
Pearson has 1:20 with 22.6 km to go.
Valognes has now been caught by the field.
We see lots of UAE Emirates at the head of the field, and Katusha Alpecin, too. We are sure that Marcel Kittel will do all he can to win today.
The peloton seems happy to let Pearson dangle out there in front with about a minute advantage.
48 seconds. Not much happening. Pearson up front, hoping against hope, and the sprinters' teams pulling the peloton along, slowly grinding down the lead.
- 14km remaining from 132km
14.8 km and only 24 seconds.
Pearson successfully negotiates a hairpin curve, with the peloton only a handful of seconds back.
Two Mitchelton riders jump from the field.
They quickly catch and pass Pearson, who tries to hang on to them, but can't.
It is Robert Stannard and Jacob Hennessey. They have 9 seconds on the field.
They are picking up a few seconds, with just over 8 km to go.
Tankink has done his job for the day -- and done it very well -- and is now at the back of the peloton.
Dimension Data and Katusha Alpecin now at the head of the peloton.
under 5 km with a gap of 11 seconds.
The two Mitchelton riders are going well but look like they are gasping for air.
With 3.5km to go they are caught.
Katusha, Bahrain Merida and DiData up front. Kittel looks to have lost his leaders, though.
Kittel way back but on Viviani's wheel. Cavendish in good shap. Last KM!
Lotto Jumbo leads the way into the last km.
Viviani takes the win in a confused sprint. Many of the sprinters were alone near the end, and a crash took down a number of them, including Colbrelli and Cavendish.
Apparently it was Bouhanni who crashed first. Cavendish did not actually hit the road, but had to stop.
Marco Haller (Katusha) was second, with Adam Blythe of Aqua Blue third.
Degenkolb and Groenewegen were also caught up in the crash near the finish.
Viviani wins the stage and the GC. He says it is "amazing", and that today was very stressful and an all-or-nothing situation.
That is QuickStep's 10th win on this young season!
Katusha Alpecin has ended up with three riders in the top ten on the stage, with Rick Zabel 5th and Kittel 6th. So still no success for Kittel. Is the problem with the crash today, the train or with him?
Viviani takes the title, with Magnus Cort Nielsen (Astana) second and Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Merida) third.
BMC has four riders in the top ten!
And here the top ten of the final stage of the Dubai Tour 2018:
1 Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors
2 Marco Haller (Aut) Katusha-Alpecin
3 Adam Blythe (GBr) Aqua Blue Sport
4 Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team
5 Rik Zabel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin
6 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin
7 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
8 Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Astana Pro Team
9 Andrea Peron (Ita) Novo Nordisk
10 Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Quick-Step Floors
GC for Dubai Tour 2018
1 Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors 19:05:46
2 Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Astana Pro Team 00:00:12
3 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 00:00:14
4 Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team 00:00:24
5 Rick Zabel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin
6 Nathan Van Hooydonck(Bel) BMC Racing Team 00:00:27
7 Loic Vliegen (Bel) BMC Racing Team 00:00:28
8 Timo Roosen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 00:00:30
9 Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team 00:00:34
10 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin 00:00:38
The fourth consecutive year that a QuickStep rider has won this race! Mark Cavendish in 2015, Kittel in 2016 and 2017, and now Viviani.
Be sure to check out our race report and the results here.
Thanks for reading along and be sure to catch us again in a few days!