Yas Marina Circuit, 26 February 2017 – Caleb Ewen avenged the embarrassment of his stage two defeat at Al Marina by cruising to victory on the Yas Marina circuit on the final day of the Abu Dhabi Tour – and this time delaying his celebration until after the finish-line. Ridden under floodlights and heavy rain for much of its 143 km, stage four saw Ewan definitively announce his arrival among the fastest sprinters in pro cycling and Rui Alberto Faria da Costa seal overall victory for the “home” team, UAE Abu Dhabi. Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data) successfully defended his lead in the Green Jersey competition (Points Classification) sponsored by Nation Towers, Patrick Konrad (Bora – Hansgrohe) grabbed the Black Jersey sponsored by Etihad Airways (Intermediate Sprint Jersey Classification) thanks to his audacious breakaway, Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) kept his White Jersey sponsored by Abu Dhabi Sports Channel (Best Young Rider) and UAE Abu Dhabi took the Team Classification.
1 – Caleb Ewan (Orica – Scott) 143km in 3h03’36”, average speed 46.859km/h
2 – Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data) s.t.
3 – Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) s.t.
1 – Rui Alberto Faria da Costa (UAE Abu Dhabi)
2 – Ilnur Zakarin (Team Katusha Alpecin) at 4″
3 – Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) at 16″
4 – Bauke Mollema (Trek – Segafredo) at 38″
5 – Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) at 53″
The Red Jersey, sponsored by the Al Maryah Island (General individual classification by time) – Rui Alberto Faria da Costa (UAE Abu Dhabi)
The Green Jersey, sponsored by Nation Towers (General individual classification by points) – Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data)
The White Jersey, sponsored by Abu Dhabi Sports Channel (Best Young Rider born after 1 January 1992) – Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors)
The Black Jersey, sponsored by Etihad Airways (Intermediate Sprint Jersey Classification) – Patrick Konrad (Bora – Hansgrohe)
At the press conference, the stage winner Caleb Ewan, said: “It feels great. This Tour started on a low with the crash then on stage two I came close but stuffed it up. It was great to repay the team for stuffing it up the other day. The team started working super early and were great.
For sure beating Cav, Greipel and Kittel in a straight-up sprint means a lot. They’re the benchmark. It’s a massive thing for me. I think there’s been a progression over time. I hope I can continue to improve and beat those guys in the future.
My next races will be Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-Sanremo, Gent-Wevelgem, then I’ll start building for Giro, which is my next big goal.
This gives me confidence for Milan-Sanremo. The races I’ve done so far have been nothing like Milan-Sanremo but I’m training for long races to get ready. This year at Sanremo is a learning experience but if I can make it to the finale of course I’ll go for the win.
The more I work with Roger Kluge, the more confident he’s becoming. He had to go early today and use some guys from other teams but I was able to take it up around the last corner, keep picking up speed and it worked great.
When we came to the slow part, after the last intermediate sprint, I said to the guys we should take it up. On a circuit like this, if you leave it later, you can lose the team and only use half of them.
I think I sprinted past the line today just to make sure I didn’t make the mistake of celebrating early. What happened the other day and the mistake I made did go through my mind.”
The Abu Dhabi Tour winner Rui Costa said: “It’s true that in the rain the circuit was tough and complicated. It was a good thing that the team did such great work and in the end we won without too many problems.
The form is good and I hope I don’t have any problems between now and Tirreno Adriatico. I’m sure that, having won here, I go to Tirreno with even more focus. That said, I had raced more than some of the guys here. Tirreno will also be very different as there’s a time trial and a team time trial.
Our team president, Mr Matar, didn’t say much but he was very happy and said I’d done something great for the UAE. That’s also why this team exists – to encourage kids to ride their bikes and promote cycling in this country. It’s a proud day for me and the team.
There are a lot of people who were in the team last year but also some new guys, who have only improved the team. We’re very strong in sprints now. We’re building a very strong team, good in lots of departments, and I think we’ll have an even better team next year.”
After the stage, the Green Jersey winner, Mark Cavendish, said: “Congratulations to Caleb. He was really good. I started a bit far back, although my guys were really good. In general I’m really happy with the week, having taken a stage win, worn the Red Jersey for two days and now going home with the Nation Towers Green Jersey is a big thing. I love it here in Abu Dhabi.”
The White Jersey winner, Julian Alaphilippe, said: “It’s always good when you win a prize jersey. I’m really happy to win it. We won a stage with Marcel Kittel and now I have this jersey, so the team’s happy and I’m also happy with my form. We tried for another stage win today but had some kind of problem in the finale. It’s a good result overall.”
The Black Jersey winner, Patrick Konrad, said: “I had worn the white jersey in this race before, so it’s nice to now win the black. It wasn’t easy to pace the effort in the break because I was well placed on general classification and the group didn’t make it easy for us today.”
Abu Dhabi Tour website
Abu Dhabi Tour YouTube Channel
Photo credits: ANSA – Peri / Bazzi