Stage 4 of the UAE Tour resulted with a quite an hectic finish where Arnaud Démare could not find his way through to be able to challenge the very best in the sprint. Third at Hatta Dam two days ago, the Frenchman had to settle for twelfth today and now looks forward to the last opportunities. Before that, David Gaudu aims to keep his great GC spot in tomorrow’s second ascent of Jebel Hafeet.  

“The route was quite tortuous and technical at some points”, Sébastien Joly

On a very flat course around Dubai, pure sprinters today had the second of their four opportunities expected in this year’s edition of the UAE Tour. However, the day was special for two reasons, as Sébastien Joly pointed out: “Firstly in terms of weather as we had a sandstorm during the morning. It’s true the forecast announced more wind than usual, but it’s still surprising, we’re not used to this kind of thing”, he said. “Fortunately, the wind was expected to decrease at the start. Secondly, the whole stage was taking place in Dubai or in its suburbs, which made the route quite tortuous and technical at some points, when passing through a Marina or a park in particular.”

The route was then a bit tricky, but the peloton still remained very compact behind William Clarke (Trek-Segafredo) and Veljko Stojnic (Vini Zabu-KTM), the leading duo for today. Behind them, a few sprinters happened to fall off their bikes, like Caleb Ewan, Pascal Ackermann or Fernando Gaviria, but everyone was ready anyway for the final. “In this last part of the race, there was rather a side wind, also a front wind sometimes, which made the peloton nervous a certain point,” said Sébastien Joly. “Then, with four kilometers to go, there was a clear headwind. It made the sprint’s approach a bit strange but Bruno [Armirail] and Ignatas [Konovalovas] managed to position our lead-out train in a good way.”

“They got a bit boxed in”, Sébastien Joly

Because of a very wide road, many teams tried to make space for themselves but there was not room for everyone. “We had planned to take the last corner in 8th-10th position,” said Sébastien. “But a big chicane with 750 meters to go ruined our plans. The lead-out with Ramon, Jacopo and Arnaud was well grouped by then but they got a bit boxed in and only Jacopo managed to go through. That’s how we got tricked.” Arnaud Démare was therefore unable to sprint for a top result and crossed the line in twelfth position, well behind the fight for victory. “There was obviously some disappointment at the finish,” admitted Sébastien. “We are going to discuss all this again, how to approach the next few days, and make sure that we can achieve a better result than this. Everyone is motivated for it.”

However, before looking at the last two stages for sprinters, David Gaudu will try to defend, or improve, his fourth place overall on the slopes of Jebel Hafeet, which have been tackled already on stage 3. “The difference with Tuesday is that it will be cooler. They are expecting 7-8° C less, concluded Sébastien. But above all, the wind will come from the north tomorrow, when it was coming from the south yesterday. So the climb should be faster, but the finish will still be with a headwind.”

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