Hello and welcome to live coverage from stage 3 of the Dubai Tour
Welcome back to the desert! Today we are trekking 200 km across the windy sands towards another mass sprint finish!
146km remaining from 200km
Once again a four-man break group got away after only 20 km, and with 54 km down, they have a gap of 5:30. The group is: Mark Christian (Aqua Blue), Luka Pibernik (Bahrain-Merida) Loic Vliegen (BMC), and Alex Dowsett (Movistar)
This is a repeat performance for Christian, who was also in yesterday's break group.
@stephenfarrand Thu, 2nd Feb 2017 08:02:07
In case you missed it, Marcel Kittel came out of nowhere to claim his second straight sprint victory. The GC now is:
1 Marcel Kittel (Quick Step Floors)
2 Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo)
3 Nicola Boem (Bardiani-CSF)
4 Jean-Pierre Drucker (BMC)
5 Thomas Stewart (One Pro Cycing)
Kittel continues to lead the points classification, ahead of Groenewegen, John Degekolb, Mark Cavendish and Drucker.
Who won today in the climbing stage at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour? Chris Froome? Esteban Chaves? None of the above! It was Orica's Damien Howson!
137km remaining from 200km
After 63 km, the gap has jumped to 5:50.
Best young rider is Groenewegen, ahead of Mareczko and Simone Andreetta.
Looks like the wind is causing some crashes here. The only details we have are that Joey Rosskopf and Silvan Dillier both hit the ground. Rosskopf has some road rash, but both are back up and going again.
@TeamDiData Thu, 2nd Feb 2017 08:32:16
The wind has apparently shattered the peloton. Quick Step tells us the gap between the first two groups is not large, which leads us to believe that Kittel is in the second group.
And indeed, we hear that both Kittel and Degenkolb are in the second group, which is now getting closer.
Quick Step now says that the first two groups have joined up and are now only 3 minutes behind the break group.
111km remaining from 200km
The gap has really plummeted. Now at 2:27.
OH yes, and let us not forget that wind in the desert kicks up a lot of sand. Not the best of riding conditions!
Those first two chase groups may have come back together, but there is still a large group lagging behind.
A report has come in that Kittel is bleeding from a head wound (nothing major!). It is most likely that some sort of trash or debris blew into him, rather than the result of a crash. Did we say dangerous riding conditions?
And another big crash, with Samuel Sanchez amongst those hitting the deck.
The leaders now have two minutes on the first chase group, with another group one more minute back.
It was not Samuel Sanchez who crashed, but Samuel Willis,
To finish up the rankings coming into this windswept stage: Boem leads the Intermediate Sprint Classification, and UAE Abu Dhabi still leads the team ranking.
102km remaining from 200km
At roughly the half-way point, the four leaders have 1:20 over the first chase group, which contains the top sprinters, with another group at 2:50.
@9lives2 Thu, 2nd Feb 2017 08:56:54
The wind is helping the speed today. Average speed so far is 49 km/h, but right now they are bombing along at 65 km/h!
The blowing sand continues at the feed zone, making things harder for everyone. Not to mention the prospect of gritty food....
Conditions are really bad here. Degenkolb has gone to the commissaires for discussion.
It looks as if the blowing sand has finally eased up. Kittel finally has a chance to go the medic's car and get his cut looked at.
Meanwhile, with 80 km to go, the gap is back up to 3.12.
And the various chase groups have now all come back together.
@velocast Thu, 2nd Feb 2017 09:07:19
It looks like the leaders are in a more mountainous, rocky area (as compared to desert) so conditions there are better. 78 km to go and a gap of 4:19.
After a short lull, with riders allowed to make it back to the bunch the pace has gone up again. It looks as though we could be in for more cross winds on the next section of the course.
The gap to the break has moved out to 5'05 as we see Trentin pull on the front with Jungels and a clutch of riders from Dimension Data. 74km to go.
The break are continuing to share the workload but they're up against it. Even with the wind at their backs this is hard to call. A lot depends on QuickStep. If Kittel, after his fall, doesnt fancy the sprint he may call his men back and force others to chase.
There will be plenty of willing teams in terms of chasing. Team Sky, Dimension Data, LottoNL have sprinters here and haven't won a stage yet. Don't forget Trek Segafredo too, who have John Degenkolb in their ranks.
And it's Lotto NL who lead the peloton with almost a full quota of riders on the front of the bunch. We see the break lose a few seconds, with the gap down to 4'45. The road changes direction in around 30km and that's where we could see more cross-wind splits.
Patrick Lefevere says that Kittel was 'beaten by an Astana rider' according to his Twitter account. The Belgian team boss is hoping that the race jury look into the matter.
66km remaining from 200km
Down to the final 66km of racing as the gap continues to tumble. It's at 3'56 as QuickStep put another rider into the chase at the front of the peloton.
We've already seen the cross winds rip the peloton apart once during the stage. The wind has died down for now but when the race direction changes, in around 30km, we could see the peloton split again.
56km remaining from 200km
The gap is down to 3'11, so the peloton working well as we see Dowsett take on food at the back of the break.
@SophieSmith86 Thu, 2nd Feb 2017 09:41:59
Dowsett, aiming to take back his UCI Hour Record, later this year, then moves to the front of the break. Back in the bunch it's that man again, Jungels, who leads the chase. The Luxembourg champion has slogged his guts out for QuickStep in the race so far this week.
51km remaining from 200km
After the earlier chaos in the race there's a sense of normality and calm now as we see QuickStep, LottoNL and Dimension Data patrol the front of the bunch. The gap continues to drop, with the break now at 2'30. It's coming down quickly.
The break know that the bunch have them where they want them but they plough on regardless. The gap is just above two minutes with 48km remaining.
Bram Tankink leads the peloton now. Once of QuickStep, the 38-year-old is a model domestique. His last big win came in 2005, with a win at the Deutschland Tour. He beat one Jose Cobo that day.
We've just spoken to Patrick Lefevere: "Echelons are a fight but you keep your hands on the handlebars." More on this flying elbow to come.
39km remaining from 200km
The gap now down to 1'44 as Tankink and Jungels trade turns on the front of the peloton.
Lefevere says that he will talk to the riders and the team but indicates that a complaint to the race jury will be made.
Mirza is down after after all. The UAE rider hit the deck at full speed. He's back on his feet, has a new bike and even manages a thumbs up as he starts to chase. The gap between the bunch and the break is at 1'51 - 35km to go.
29km remaining from 200km
QuickStep line out the peloton with some help from LottoNL, Trek and Dimension Data. No wind at this point as the break holds at 2'00 with 29km to go.
Our story on Kittel and elbow-gate is JUST HERE.
Slight incline now for the break as they start to struggle. They still have a bit of tailwind but they're losing time rapidly now. The gap is at 1'35 with 23km to go. There's a second intermediate sprint inside the final 15km to come of course as Trek raise the pace once more.
The break make it over the climb and are now descending but they've lost another 15 seconds. They might contest the intermediate time bonus but it's going to be close.
No passengers in the break as they continue to swap turns. There is a slight cross wind at the moment but it's not enough to split the field. 2km to go until the intermediate sprint.
18km remaining from 200km
The gap is at 47 seconds. Pibernik is on the front of the break as he drags the four to the sprint.
It's Dowsett who takes the six seconds, ahead of Vliegen. He's won both intermediate sprints today.
A good day in the saddle for Dowsett. Six seconds in the bag, some decent training for the HR and some TV time for the Movistar jersey. The gap to the peloton is at 44 seconds, 15km to go.
But the pace once again rises at the front of the peloton with QuickStep responsible. The break are just in full survival mode now as they tap out a pace with the last bit of energy they have.
Jungels is once more on the front. His work brings the back down to 30 seconds, 12.7km to go. They catch will be made with around 10km to go.
10km remaining from 200km
10km to go and they're still out there but the bunch have the break in sight. The gap holding at 22 seconds. Trek, Di Data, Quickstep, Lotto, Team Sky and Willier are all near the front and looking to contest the sprint finish. Kittel won here last year but after the earlier injury, what does he have left?
Knees hits the front for the first time as he looks to set up Viviani. The gap at 19 seconds. It's coming down rapidly.
Vliegen takes off and goes for a lone attack and Dowsett sits up. He's a spent force. The remaining three have 15 seconds with 6.2km to go as Sky hit the front of the peloton in numbers.
5km remaining from 200km
5km to go and the gap is still holding at 15 seconds. The peloton are really having to work to close this gap and they're not having it all their own way today.
The sprint trains line up at the front of the peloton, it's a real battle for position as Vliegen sits up. We have just two riders left in the break with 4km to go. The gap drops to 7 seconds.
The bunch are sprinting already just to get their sprinters into the best position. The break are finally caught with 3km to go. Jungels, once more hits the front.
@BMCProTeam Thu, 2nd Feb 2017 10:47:58
A BMC rider attacks but the gap is just a few meters. Di Data shut it down as Eisel takes over. Cavendish is in third wheel. Too close to the front for now.
Eisel tries to slow it down a bit to wait for Renshaw. 1km to go as Trek and LottoNL take over.
Here comes QuickStep. Kittel well placed with Groenewegen on his wheel. Now Trentin takes over.
Here comes Cavendish through the chaos. He's going head to head with Degenkolb.
The two sprinters are level with 50 to go!
Degenkolb takes it. The German pushes for the line and just edges out the Dimension Data rider.
That's a huge win for Degenkolb. Massive.
He and de Kort embrace at the line. Rast comes over as well as the other Trek Segafredo riders. First win for his new team and ten seconds in the GC. He timed that sprint perfectly. Allowing Cavendish to go first and then just taking it on the line.
It was Rensburg who was second , not Cavendish, with Colbrelli third and Lobato fourth. Kittel, Groenewegen, and Cavendish out of the top five.
In the GC Kittel keeps his lead with Groenewegen second at 8 seconds and Degenkolb third at 10 seconds. Boem drops to fourth overall, 13 seconds down.
@quickstepteam Thu, 2nd Feb 2017 10:57:01
1 John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo 04:03:08
2 Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension Data
3 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
4 Juan Jose Lobato (Spa) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
5 Riccardo Minali (Ita) Astana Pro Team
6 Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team
7 Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky
8 Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
9 Adam Blythe (GBr) Aqua Blue Sport
10 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Movistar Team
@EdwardTheuns Thu, 2nd Feb 2017 11:06:31
General Classification after stage 3
1 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Quick-Step Floors 12:34:54
2 Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 00:00:08
3 John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo 00:00:10
4 Nicola Boem (Ita) Bardiani CSF 00:00:13
5 Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team 00:00:14
6 Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension Data
7 Alex Dowsett (GBr) Movistar Team
8 Thomas Stewart (GBr) ONE Pro Cycling
9 Jakub Mareczko (Ita) Wilier Triestina 00:00:16
10 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data
Thanks for joining us today. You can find our complete report, images and results, right here.
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