Visbeek confident Degenkolb can win Dubai Tour
Giant-Alpecin director Aike Visbeek is confident that with the perfect team lead-out during the stage 4 finale, John Degenkolb can win the overall title at the Dubai Tour. The team’s German sprinter has a four-second advantage over Mark Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep) and six seconds over Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). The final stage on Saturday is a flat 128km from Dubai International Marine Club to Burj Khalifa.
"Tomorrow will be tough defending the overall lead and we will need to do a perfect lead-out, but the guys have confidence, and John is strong after a good few months preparing for the start of the season,” Visbeek said.
“We had to change his preparation slightly with the arrival of his child but he trained well with some really specific work in Cambrils and his shape is improving. There's still more to build on but this was a good show of what's to come."
Degenkolb took over the race lead after winning stage 3 atop Hatta Dam. He started his winning sprint at the bottom of the 300-metre climb, with a maximum gradient of 17 per cent, out-pacing Movistar teammates Valverde and Juan Jose Lobato.
"We did a recon ride of the final of this stage before the race, going over it very carefully and made a good plan for how best to approach it. We knew that it would be tough but that it was a good stage for John.
“We kept enough guys for the end and they did an amazing job to stay calm and put him in position at the bottom of the climb and from there it was up to John.
Valgren picks up young rider jersey on Hatta Dam, Kiserlovski pleased with Tinkoff-Saxo's overall effort
Tinkoff-Saxo’s Michael Valgren climbed into the lead of the best young rider classification on the stage 3’s Hatta Dam hilltop at the Dubai Tour on Friday. He was sitting in fourth place at the start of the stage, with the same time as the previous day’s leader Paolo Simion (Bardiani-CSF), but jumped into the lead head of the final stage.
Giant-Alpecin’s John Degenkolb won the stage to the top of Hatta Dam but Valgren, along with his teammates Oliver Zaugg, Manuele Boaro and Robert Kiserlovski, all finished in the top 21 riders.
“It was a good stage for us,” Kiserlovski said. “We didn’t win, but we hadn’t expected that either. The ascent was simply too short for that and favored the versatile sprinters and fast guys such as Degenkolb and Valverde. Especially Oliver Zaugg and I would have needed at least 800 or 1000 meters to compete with the more powerful guys.”
Zaugg added, “It was a good test. It’s early in the year and for a light guy like me it’s great to experience that I’m almost able to keep up in an uphill sprint like this. It gives me confidence before the next races.
Pozzato tests early-season form on Dubai climb
Lampre-Merida’s Filippo Pozzato is happy with his early-season form after placing fourth on the stage 3 climb Hatta Dam. The short but steep climb came at the end of a 205km stage, and the Italian thanked his teammate Rafael Valls for helping him with good positioning at the bottom.
"Today stage was an interesting test to check my condition: I think my performance was good and the result is satisfying,” Pozzato said. “Degenkolb deserved the victory, his action was very good. I want to thank my team for the support, especially Valls was great in being my pilot in the final kilometers, when the fight for the front positions of the group was hard.”
Pozzato is ninth overall, 12 seconds behind Degenkolb, heading into the fourth and final stage on Saturday.
CCC Sprandi Polkowice gets top 10 on Dubai queen stage
Despite a bit of bad luck, Grega Bole climbed into seventh place on the stage 3 finale on Hatta Dam, moving up into sixth place in the overall classification, 12 seconds behind race leader John Degenkolb.
“I wanted to start the last climb in the front and I managed to do so,” Bole said. “I waited with the sprint until 200m before the line and I was able to take seventh place, which I am very satisfied with.
“Again we had some bad luck in the end, because Maciej Paterski punctured and I was left by myself. Throughout the entire stage the team worked great and I want to thank all my teammates for their help.”
CCC Sprandi Polkowice goes into the final stage 4 with plans to keep their top overall placing with Bole, and work for sprinter Grzegorz Stepniak in the bunch sprint.