If Marcel Kittel stayed with his prior team “Quick-step Floors” would he have won and more importantly would he have gotten the triple? Who knows? However what can be seen from Dubai Tour is that if you stuck any lead rider in the Quick-step Floors team at least one win out of the five stages would be spoon fed to the rider due to the team’s incredible organisation amongst the bunch sprint.
The Best Bits:
1. The Gear
The bikes were to die for. From Cervélos wrapped in green film to make them look like they had undergone intense radiation to the new 3T Strada which only had one chainring. There were super bikes everywhere!
I was intrigued by the whole one-by concept so I managed to talk to one of the Aqua Blue team mechanics and ask him the gear ratios that were chucked on the bikes. I was told that they were running a ‘9-32’ on the back (cassette) and unfortunately I was buried in gear ratio information about the Hatta stage which left me confused and out of my depth as far as gear knowledge goes…
2. The Performance of the Emiratis
The UAE National riders put on an incredible performance. Although they did not see any stage wins, they showed dominance and power within the breakaways that they were in (most if not all). Mohammed Al Mansouri did an brilliant job demonstrating the formidable form of Emirati cycling although he was a bit worse for wear by the end and not able to complete the rest of the Tour. By the last stage seven riders depreciated to four, however they still showed their influence on the peloton considering the number of riders lost.
3. The Layout of the Tour
The Dubai Tour has the same start line for every stage so this makes stress-free. The cyclists, managers and mechanics were laid back compared to other stage races due to the ease of setting up shop every morning. This is especially good at the start of the season as transfers (such as Marcel Kittel to Katusha Alpecin) would have been made and team bonding is crucial if teams want to be successful for the rest of the season.
The Frustrating Bits:
1. Course Design
A bunch sprint on ice? Who decided to have the determining last stage bunch sprint on what appeared to be a slippery road surface? Riders bikes slipped out from underneath them as they went round the final corner luckily none seemed to be seriously injured however if someone were to be injured the teams wouldn’t be to happy considering its the start of the season.
2. The Heart-breaking Moment
The talented 19-year old Brandon McNulty (Rally Cycling) unfortunately got caught in the final 50 metres from the uphill finish on Hatta Dam. Watching the current under-23 US champion’s lead slowly slip away can only be described as heart-breaking.
He had given it his all and finished 21st losing 11 seconds in that final nail-biting and awful 50 metres. Quote of the Tour has to be “When I saw the climb it was an ‘Oh Sh*t! kind of moment.” McNulty was heard to say.