The next generation of Garmin-Sharp riders continued to show their talent and potential at the Dubai Tour with Dylan van Baarle taking fourth in the sprint in Hatta behind Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano), Joan Jose Lobato (Movistar) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale).
Jonathan Vaughters decided to shake up his roster for 2014, bringing in a dozen riders to support stage racers Dan Martin, Andrew Talansky and Ryder Hesjedal. The new signings include some of the most talented young riders in the peloton: Nathan Brown (Bontrager), Ben King (RadioShack-Leopard), Tom-Jelte Slagter (Belkin), Lasse Norman Hanson (Blue Water Cycling), Andre Fernando Cardoso (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Janier Acevedo (Jamis-Hagens Berman) and van Baarle.
Nathan Haas and Jack Bauer have shown their talents by winning stages at the Santos Tour Down Under and the Herald Sun Tour in Australia, while Phil Gaimon made his big-time debut with a stage win and a dogged defense of the leader's jersey at the Tour de San Luis.
On stage one of the Dubai Tour, Hansen – who won gold in the Omnium on the track at the 012 London Olympic Games – showed his speed and bike skills by taking third. He was beaten by early starters Taylor Phinney and Steve Cummings (BMC), but was faster than both Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing).
Tyler Farrar had a go in the stage two sprint but was blocked in the hectic finish and finished twelfth behind teammates Raymond Kreder and Hansen.
Van Baarle was the 2013 Dutch Under 23 road race and time trial champion and came through the ranks of the Rabobank Development team. He also won the prestigious Thüringen Rundfahrt stage race in 2013 and was third in the Tour de Normandie. He seems to have the multiple talents needed to excel in stage races.
Despite the numerous attacks in the final part of the stage, van Baarle was not afraid to start his sprint early. He came off a teammate's wheel and took the best, inside line as the road curved left. For a moment it looked like he was heading to victory but then Kittel and company blasted past him down the centre of the road.
"It was very hectic in the finale. The bunch just exploded on the last climb and left just a little group (of 39 riders) for the finish," van Baarle told Cyclingnews as he gulped for air.
"Sebastian (Langeveld) set me up with 200 metres to go and then I went full gas but against Kittel, it's hard to do much better but I wanted to have a go."
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.