Dubai: Olympic Champion and 2018 Dubai Tour winner Elia Viviani of Deceuninck — Quick-Step pipped UAE Team Emirates’ Fernando Gaviria in a close sprint to win the 181km Stage 5 of the UAE Tour between Sharjah and Khor Fakkan on Thursday.
Finishing third behind Gaviria was two time Dubai Tour winner (2016-2017) Marcel Kittel of Katusha — Alpecin. The win was sweet revenge for Viviani, who had lost to Gaviria in Stage 2.
Team Jumbo — Visma’ Primoz Roglic of Slovenia continues to don the red leader’s jersey for General Classification after finishing safely in the bunch.
“After the successful season I had last year and Fernando not being our teammate anymore, it’s great to still win because he’s the world’s best sprinter and the hardest to beat,” said a jubilant Viviani.
“So I’m glad we did it as a team today after losing Stage 2 to him. My lead-out train worked really well in this chaotic finish. We took the right decision to not spend more energy than needed yesterday and focus exclusively on today.”
Roglic, who has a 21-second advantage over Alejandro Valverde of Movistar and 38 seconds over David Gaudu of Groupama — FDJ, said: “As expected, it was a long day in the saddle but I didn’t really get bored because we always had to be attentive in the desert with the crosswinds. Again, our team did a great job, and protected my [leading] time. For sure, we’re ready for tomorrow’s decisive stage.”
Just after two kilometres, the ones to breakaway were Stephen Kuriyanov of Gazprom-Rusvelo — the points and intermediate sprint leader — along with teammates Sergey Shilov and Anton Vorobyev. Also joining them were Team Novo Nordisk’s Charles Planet and Fabio Calabria.
The battle for the intermediate sprints has been mainly confined to two riders so far and stage five was no different. Kuriyanov and Planet both were once again battling during the sprints. The first one after 3km at Sharjah University was won by Planet.
The second sprint — just before heading into Fujairah after 136km — was won by Kuriyanov beating Shilov and they a nearly 90-second gap over the peloton. However, the breakaway group was reeled in with 34km to go.
At the final 2km mark at Khor Fakkan, QuickStep made the decisive move to put Viviani in line for the final surge. The Italian had Gaviria, Kittel and Bennett right behind, but he had the power to keep them at bay.
Today’s sixth and penultimate stage of the UAE Tour will start at Ajman and finish at the top of Jebel Jais with an average slope of gradient of 5 per cent.
1. Elia Viviani (Deceuninck — Quick-Step), 4:48:59
2. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) s.t.
3. Marcel Kittel (Team Katusha Alpecin) s.t.
1. Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo — Visma) 18:54:09
2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) at 21s
3. David Gaudu (Groupama — FDJ) at 38s