The final stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour took place under the lights of the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi where the peloton lined up for 26 laps of the flat 5.5km circuit, with a sprint finale on everyone’s mind.
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka were focused on setting Mark Cavendish up for victory so when a 5-rider break went clear early on, the African team helped to control the pace.
Jay Thomson and Mekseb Debesay were rolling through with the Astana Team, who were riding in defence of the overall race lead. This would be the case for around 120 kilometres before Cavendish’s team took full control of proceedings for the final 25 kilometres.
Thomson and Debesay relayed at the head of affairs to close the 1’15” gap to the lead riders while Cavendish lined up behind his lead out team of Bernie Eisel, Youcef Reguigui and Mark Renshaw.
Renshaw led through the last right-hander and when the road opened for Cavendish, there was no stopping the Manxman from winning on the home straight. The stage podium was completed by Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) and Elia Viviani (Team Sky) respectively.
Mark Cavendish – “The stage was left to Dimension Data to control, none of the other sprint teams wanted to help at all which was quite strange because we have won a stage and they haven’t. Nevertheless, we have the two strongest guys in the race to pull on the front in Mekseb and Jay.”
“They just controlled the break incredibly and stayed so long that the leadout could take over easily. They gave us stability at the front and I had Bernie, Youcef and Mark to lead me out in the final 2km and they did an incredible job. It was important to be at the front because there was a lot of wind and a lot of corners. Giant nearly got the jump on us so I thought it would do me a favour if one of them gets in between myself and Mark, so I let him in but he couldn’t hold Mark’s wheel in the sprint.”
“I was still able to use his slingshot and then Mark’s slingshot in front to accelerate in the last 200 meters. I am really happy to have won the stage again. It’s another win and good exposure for our sponsors and Qhubeka, so it was really nice to be able to do that.”