World's best sprinters approaching the finish line in stage five of the UAE Tour on Friday. Image Credit: Source: UAE Tour

Paris: With many of the cycling world’s best sprinters in the pack at the UAE Tour Dutch rider Dylan Groenewegen threw down an early-season marker on Friday winning stage five of the UAE Tour.

Winds have scuppered some of the expected sprint finishing this week, but Friday’s flat stage ended in a real mass bunch sprint, with the sprinters’ teams enjoying the broad roads here.

In the sprint, Groenewegen overtook Irishman Sam Bennett and held off a late charge from Colombian Fernando Gaviria.

Field packed with pretenders

British veteran Mark Cavendish could only manage eighth in a field packed with pretenders, while Monday’s winner Tim Merlier was fifth.

Overall leader and world champion Remco Evenepoel stayed first and holds a narrow nine-second lead over Luke Plapp.

Saturday’s stage should result in a similar scenario with a flat finish and a bunch sprint expected before Sunday’s finale on the Jebel Hafeet mountain.