As expected, and despite some crosswinds in the first part of the day, stage 5 of the UAE Tour ended with a bunch sprint on Thursday. Jasper Philipsen took the victory while Arnaud Démare, too far back in the home straight, had to settle for seventh on the line. There is one opportunity left for the French sprinter this Friday.
In the aftermath of the first summit finish of the UAE Tour, the peloton had to cover a completely flat 182-kilometer stage towards Al Marjan Island. The sprinters were therefore expected to return to the spotlight. It did not prevent three riders from Gazprom-Rusvelo and one from Bardiani-CSF-Faizené from going up front early on. However, their adventure did not last long since the peloton caught them after an hour or so following an echelons’ sequence. This fight only lasted about ten kilometres before everything was back to normal. “The day was quite calm”, said Arnaud Démare. “There were some attempts in the crosswinds, but they weren’t very effective.” Subsequently, a new quartet took the lead but never got a big advantage. Everything was back together again with fifty kilometres to go, and Michael Kukrle (Gazprom-RusVelo) then attacked on his own. The Czech Republic champion got a nice advantage of about 2’30 thanks to a small break in the bunch. With twenty kilometres to go however, the bunch got back to work, and the chances of the leading rider obviously vanished. It was time to prepare for the massive sprint.
“It’s not easy to stay together”, Arnaud Démare
“Matteo, who was not on his terrain, did a good job in order to position the team entering the last 20k”, continued Sébastien. “As for Clément, he is really improving and he’s learning very quickly. He managed to protect the lead-out train in the final”. The young Frenchman left Arnaud Démare and his teammates in the last five kilometres, and the train was still very united two kilometres further. However, it then became trickier. “The finish was on an artificial island with a large loop and a round trip around a roundabout”, explained Sébastien. “We had reviewed the pictures from last year, we knew it was going to be particular, and it was indeed a bit of a messy sprint. Ramon lost the wheels and could not bring Arnaud back behind Miles and Jacopo who were in good position”. “We lost each other in the sprint”, completed the former French champion, seventh on the line. “It’s not easy to stay together because it goes really fast, over 70 km/h. We can’t show our worth, but the sprint setups are really special here. There’s still a sprint to go tomorrow, and I’m going to give everything again, but I think the more technical style of sprints in Europe might suit us better.” “For sure we are disappointed tonight, but there is still an opportunity tomorrow and we will do everything we can to not have regret”, concluded Sébastien. “Tomorrow, the goal will be victory and nothing else”.