Hello and welcome to our live coverage from stage 3 of the Dubai Tour. Just to bring you up to speed, we have just under 100km of racing remaining and there's a break up the road with around three minutes over the peloton.
The four riders in the break are:
Apologies, the four riders are: Simone Bevilacqua (Willier), Mark Christian (Aqua Blue Sport), Loic Vliegen (BMC Racing Team) and Quentin Valognes (Team Novo Nordisk).
In terms of the GC, this is how things stand coming into the stage:
1 Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 8:25:50
2 Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:02
3 Nathan Van Hooydonck (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:00:09
4 Magnus Cort (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:00:10
5 Riccardo Minali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:12
6 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:16
7 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
8 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
9 John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo
10 Jacob Hennessy (GBr) Mitchelton-Bikeexchange
It's been a chaotic two days at the race so far. No team has been able to really control the sprints - there are a lot of new leadout trains and sprinters, so there are a few teething problems out there. That's the case for Katusha Alpecin, especially. They've done a huge amount of work in the last two days but have come up short with Marcel Kittel missing out on stage wins. Earlier in the year we recorded this podcast, when we went behind the scenes with the German and his leadout. You can listen to the podcast, right here.
Viviani was the winner yesterday, on his 29th birthday. The win marked his second victory of the season after claiming a stage in the Tour Down Under. He held off the challenge from Mark Cavendish and others on stage 2 and has settled well at Quick-Step Floors since his move from Team Sky.
Last time we finished in Fujairah, Marcel Kittel won the stage. It's only the second month of the year but already the German is facing a few questions over his form and sprinting. He came here as the main favourite but hasn't been able to deliver so far. Once it clicks, it's going to click but the longer the wait goes on the more pressure Kittel will face.
The wind has picked up and it's caused a split in the main field. It looks like Bouhanni has been caught out. We see Kristoff put the hammer down on the front of the leading part of the peloton. 75km to go and the break have 1'01. The Bouhanni group is at 1'20 as we see a rider hit the deck. He's back on his feet though.
73km remaining from 180km
Degenkolb and Krsitoff are sharing turns here as the gap begins to grow. They realise they have a huge chance if they can drop some of their rivals in the cross-winds. The race leader is present, so too is QuickStep with Viviani and Cavendish. 73km to go.
The main peloton is down to around 50 riders or so and there's no letting up in pace. It's bad news for the break, however, with their advantage down to just 39 seconds with 71km to go. This is already more exciting than the Worlds road race from 2016. Although that's not saying much. My mother called me at 5'45 this morning to talk about blenders. That was more interesting than the 2016 Worlds road race.
19 seconds now between the break and the Kristoff group. Trek Segafredo have been doing a huge amount of work but Dylan Groenewegen is in trouble. He's off the back of the bunch and chasing with one teammate. He's getting pulled back by the car - this is a long, long tow.... he takes a bottle and makes it back to the bunch. Panic over. Now, back to blenders...
The pace has eased but the break has been caught. This should help the Bouhanni group slightly but Quick-Step hit the front immediately after that lull and start to set the pace. They want another win for Viviani and clearly feel confident in their new sprinter's chances.
Problem for Cavendish. He has a flat and needs a new wheel. It's a fairly quick change and he has teammates around him. He should be fine. 63km to go as BMC lead the Bouhanni group. It looks like Trek and QuickStep are making life difficult for them though as they continue to lead the first group on the road. It's coming back together, but this is going to cost riders a lot of energy.
60km remaining from 180km
Cavendish is coming back through the cars and should make it. Up at the front of the race Quick-Step have taken their foot off the gas and that should allow everyone to make it back. 60km to go.
Cavendish is at 15 seconds. The bunch have slowed and the Dimension Data is back.
Viviani's men are still controlling the peloton, but it's more about containment rather than pressure. BMC Racing are also in the mix but these experienced cross-wind riders are wary of the conditions. If there's a chance in direction they'll put the hammer down again.
@Cyclingnewsfeed Thu, 8th Feb 2018 10:02:58
@katushacycling Thu, 8th Feb 2018 10:04:43
@100Climbs Thu, 8th Feb 2018 10:06:11
Kittel is near the front and being looked after by his Katusha teammates but it's Quick-Step who retain control with one rider on the front of the peloton. 54km to go as we see Bahrain Merida start to set the pace.
Nibali takes a couple of turns on the front but he's relaxed and smiling for the cameras - a sure sign that the urgency within the pack has died down. The bunch spread across the road and sit up, and it looks like a number of riders are dropping back for food and fresh bidons.
There's no pace in the peloton at all. Nibali and his teammates are chatting with riders from Trek, while we see the sprinters' teams regroup after an hour or so of excitement.
50km remaining from 180km
A shade over 50km to go. Nothing has happened since the last message was posted.
This is a really good opportunity for a counter attack to form. The peloton have sat up, TV cameras are on but there's no reaction at all. 49km to go. LottoNL Jumbo have moved to the front.
Bouhanni is off the back at the moment. Not sure if there's a mechanical but the Frenchman is drifting back through the cars. He has a teammate with him though and is starting to come back.
@Cyclingnewsfeed Thu, 8th Feb 2018 10:22:02
Tankink is on the front at the moment. He turned 39 in December and rode for Domo Farm Frites back in the day. Great team (not so great kit) but he rode with the likes of Merckx, Virenque, Fred Rodriguez, and Wilfried Peeters. And Piotr Wadecki. Remember him?
Anyone know what Piotr Wadecki is doing these days? I bet he's not watching this race, that's for sure.
Lotto and Quick-Step continue to set the pace. Tankink gets on the radio. 33km to go.
@Cyclingnewsfeed Thu, 8th Feb 2018 10:44:10
A bit more pace from the punch as we head into the final 30km. And all of a sudden BMC Racing send a rider up the road. They've been attacking throughout the race this week and they're at it again. The move came from a long way back and the the rider is alone. Good luck with that.
The rider is question is Tom Bohli. He has about 15 seconds at the moment but with Quick-Step , Lotto and Dimension Data on the front it's not a move that has much chance. It does help BMC though, as they don't have any pressure to chase and can use this tactic to weaken the main sprint trains. In theory. 27km to go.
The gap is holding at 15 seconds with 24km to go.
This is a decent effort from the BMC rider but the gap is down to just 7 seconds with 18km to go. We're heading back towards the coast as Quick-Step continue to set the pace.
13km remaining from 180km
Cofidis have come to the front for the first time for Bouhanni but so many teams are there and in numbers. Once again though it's Katusha and Quick-Step who are doing most of the work. The BMC Racing rider has been caught and we're all together. 13km to go.
The bunch has lined out with 10km and and it's all Katusha on the front.
@SadhbhOS Thu, 8th Feb 2018 11:05:37
Kittel has five men in front of him but there's still 8km to go. There's one more tight corner remaining and that's a key point in the race. it's a race just into that corner. Here come Lotto, QS and Astana. Dimension Data have lost a little bit of ground at this point.
Kittel looks well placed at this point. So does Viviani. Cavendish has numbers too. Groenewegen looks comfortable.
Bouhanni has just two men left. 5km to go.
Here come Trek but Katusha still have the longest train at this point. 4.5km to go.
Blythe is so good at finding the right wheel. He'd be a perfect leadout man. He's on Kittel's wheel.
3.8km to go and Bouhanni has found another teammate. He has four guys now.
3km to go and here comes Viviani around the long left-hand corner. That was a key point in the race and it's Trek and Katusha who lead.
It's Bahrain who now lead. Can Colbrelli win this?
QuickStep have some work to do on the far right but Kittel is still there. So too Cavendish and Bouhanni and Groenewegen. 1.9km to go.
Bahrain are doing a fantastic job with 1.5km remaining.
Cavendish has just one man, Bouhanni looks to be boxed in 1km to go.
Viviani comes through the middle. Cavendish moves up. He's on Viviani's wheel again.
QuickStep lead out.
Cavendish takes the win.
That was a really long, brutal sprint. They went so, so early.
Viviani was forced to go early in the end and then Cavendish came around him. Bouhanni had the perfect position as the line closed in but he just couldn't come around Cavendish in time. Kittel had some speed but he left it far too late in the end. He had too much ground to make up and simply ran out of road. Viviani will be disappointed with that though.
Cavendish takes his first win of the season and he's being congratulated by all of his teammates. He got it spot on tactically today and his final leadout man did a great job. Cavendish then jumped onto Viviani's wheel and then came around the Italian with around 150m to go. Adam Blythe finished in fourth. Impressive ride from him considering he has to do it all on his own.
Actually the best move from Cavendish came with around 800m to go when he moved onto Bouhanni's train. That saw him gain so much ground and allowed him to find Viviani's wheel.
You can find our brief report, results and some early photos, right here.
Here's the top 10:
1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data 03:53:46
2 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
3 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin
4 Adam Blythe (GBr) Aqua Blue Sport
5 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
6 Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors
7 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
8 Magnus Cort (Den) Astana Pro Team
9 Riccardo Minali (Ita) Astana Pro Team
10 Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
Viviani is the new race leader. Early reports are that Groenewegen has handed a 20 second time bonus for drafting after his mechanical. That moves Cavendish up to second overall. We'll wait for confirmation on that.
And confirmation of the new GC. We do indeed have a new leader.
1 Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 12:19:36
2 Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors 00:00:02
3 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data 00:00:06
4 Nathan Van Hooydonck (Bel) BMC Racing Team 00:00:09
5 Magnus Cort (Den) Astana Pro Team 00:00:10
6 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
7 Loic Vliegen (Bel) BMC Racing Team
8 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin 00:00:12
9 Riccardo Minali (Ita) Astana Pro Team
10 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates 00:00:16
Apologies, the below GC is not correct. Standby.
Here's your new GC:
General Classification after stage 3
1 Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors 12:19:38
2 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data 00:00:04
3 Nathan Van Hooydonck (Bel) BMC Racing Team 00:00:07
4 Magnus Cort (Den) Astana Pro Team 00:00:08
5 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
6 Loic Vliegen (Bel) BMC Racing Team
7 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin 00:00:10
8 Riccardo Minali (Ita) Astana Pro Team
9 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates 00:00:14
10 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
Let's hear from today's stage winner:
“I had a good feeling today, especially after yesterday. I knew I was there. I knew the team was there. I can't beat Viviani in a track sprint race so I had to wait, wait and wait, and use my jump. Any time of the year, it's important to win. It's good for my account. Already with this win, I've won the same amount of races I won in the whole season last year. The thing I'm disappointed about is that yesterday, when I realized I couldn't win, had I kept going, I would have come second and be in the lead now. It's my own fault. But I'll try and get the blue jersey in the next two days."
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