Stage 4 of the UAE Tour ended on Wednesday as expected: with a bunch sprint. Sam Bennett took the victory while Olivier Le Gac earlier went up front for sixty kilometers before getting caught by the sprinting teams. 23rd today, Anthony Roux remains eleventh overall ahead of the second mountain top finish of the week.

“Time went by faster”, Olivier Le Gac

More than two hundred kilometers were to be covered on Wednesday in the Persian Gulf. It certainly felt like a transition stage between the two summit finishes of the UAE Tour. “It was the longest stage of the race,” said Jussi Veikkanen. “We had more or less an idea of ​​how it was going to unfold. We only had a slight doubt about the wind, but when we woke up this morning, we saw that it was not strong enough to have a real impact on the race”. Therefore, the first part of the stage kind of was a long procession where no breakaway took the lead. “Deceuninck-Quick Step made a small attempt of echelons, but it had no effect.” The peloton then arrived all together at the halfway point. Only there a move went clear, with a man from Groupama-FDJ involved: Olivier Le Gac. “We told the guys not to hesitate to go in the breakaway,” Jussi said. “That was above all for Olivier, Alexys and Matthieu, with the idea of working for the future in mind. Olivier was a bit bored in the peloton, he asked Bidard from AG2R-Citroën to give him company and they attacked together about 100 kilometers from the finish. They did a nice ride up front, but it proved unsuccessful. They got a three-minute gap at best, Bidard suffered a puncture and they eventually got caught shortly after the second intermediate sprint”.

“Apart from the climbers and Anthony, we had carte blanche if we wanted to go up front,” said Olivier. “We knew that there was little chance that the breakaway would make it given the field of sprinters here, but it was also an opportunity to do some work. Alexys attacked at the start of the race, but found himself on his own so he sat down. After a hundred kilometers, I agreed with François Bidard in order not to find myself alone in front. We did a few kilometers together even though we knew it was going to be difficult. We still hoped to go a little further but the sprinters’ teams decided otherwise. At least I got a little busy and the time went by faster. The feelings are good for the first race, but I had a difficult winter. I was a bit injured so I didn’t ride as much as I wanted, and the weather was also really tough. I wasn’t sure what form I was going to be in for the recovery. It’s not too bad. I hope the UAE Tour will give me a good start for what will follow. That’s the purpose. Anyway, it feels good to ride with hot temperatures and to make some effort”.

“Our climbers also want to show themselves more”, Jussi Veikkanen

On Wednesday, Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick Step) got the victory in the final sprint. “As far as we are concerned, nothing to report”, added Jussi. “The instruction for the final was not to take any risk. William has a habit of placing and rubbing, so he found himself in front for a while, but that was mostly down to his experience. We didn’t try to go for the sprint at all”. First rider of the team on the line (23rd), Anthony Roux remains eleventh overall but a second summit finish, at Jebel Jais this time, is due on Thursday. “The climb is longer and smoother than in stage 3,” Jussi explained. “The general classification will surely be decided there as the last two stages will be mostly done in the cities, so there are fewer risks of echelons. Anthony knows the climb, he is still in the mix in the overall standings and we’ll see if his legs will be better than yesterday. I think our climbers (Matteo Badilatti and Attila Valter, editor’s note) also want to show themselves more tomorrow. We will take stock when we’ll get to the bottom of the climb. That being said, everyone is fine and ready”.

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