• It was all or nothing for Marcel Kittel (Etixx-QuickStep) on Stage 4 of the Dubai Tour (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Marcel Kittel (Etixx-QuickStep) stormed to the line in the final stage of the Dubai Tour, an explosive effort that saw him take the stage win, the points jersey and the overall classification in the final seconds of the four-day event.
By
Cycling Central

7 Feb 2016 - 10:07 AM 

In doing so, he fended off the previous race leader, Giacomo Nizzolo of Trek-Segafredo, who crossed the finish line in sixth and lost his number one place on the overall classification as a result.  

"A new chapter opened in my life in 2016 with a change of team,” said Kittel who moved to Etixx-QuickStep after an illness-marred 2015 season with Giant-Alpecin.

“It’s been great to start this new chapter here. I’m super happy with the support I received.

“A GC victory rarely happens for a sprinter like me. I’m excited by this win but I have to keep calm; we’re still in February and the season lasts ‘till October. The biggest challenges are still ahead."

Starting the fourth and final day of the Dubai Tour only six seconds behind Nizzolo, the 27-year-old Etixx-QuickStep rider knew everything was still possible at the finish, where the victory and 10 decisive bonus seconds were on the line.

During the stage, Daniel Teklehaimanot (Dimension Data), Jan Polanc and Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), Sebastian Lander (One Pro Cycling), Mark Christian (Team Wiggins) and Roy Curvers (Giant-Alpecin) made the breakaway of the day. The composition of the escape was ideal for Marcin Bialoblocki (One Pro Cycling) to retain the lead in the intermediate sprints.

Kittel’s team-mates came to the front inside the last 30 kilometres and took control of the bunch, in order to catch the six riders in the breakaway.

After regrouping with 11 kilometres to go, it all came down to a final and decisive bunch sprint. Had Nizzolo come second to Kittel, he would have kept the overall lead but the German was so powerful that no one managed to hold his pace, with Elia Viviani (Sky) and Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) finishing second and third, respectively.

“In the morning, at the technical meeting, we said it’s going to be all or nothing and that we’re going to focus only on the final sprint,” said Kittel. “During the stage, we stayed calm and moved to the front at the right moment. The key in the Dubai Tour is to have a strong team all the time, and I had one, which gave 100 per cent for me.

“I was in an ideal position coming to the line and didn’t think at all of my opponents, just focused on doing things right. Now I’m very happy,” said the German, who credited his strong ride on the Hatta Dam climb as being decisive in the final outcome.

“That was the most important day of the race. It was a very hard ascent, with a 17 per cent gradient, but I was in form and wanted to show what I can do on such a tough finish.”

The bonus seconds he grabbed at the Burj Khalifa finish meant that Kitell also won the general classification of the Dubai Tour, as well as the red jersey, which rewards the best rider in the points standings, and will now leave the Middle East with three victories in the bag.

“It’s really awesome, it gives you a fantastic feeling to cap off the week like that,” he said. “We trained a lot for the Dubai Tour in the winter and we were fully committed, not only because it was my first race of the season, but also because it was an opportunity to see how the train and the lead-out work.

“I’m more than satisfied with the way things went and I think we can all be proud. Now I’m even more motivated, and I can’t wait for the next races to come.”