LottoNL-Jumbo’s two-pronged sprint team claimed a top 10 finish in the sand-blasted third stage of the Dubai Tour today. Spaniard Juan José Lobato took fourth and Dutch Champion Dylan Groenewegen eighth. John Degenkolb (Trek) won ahead of Reinhardt Janse van Rensburg (Dimension Data) and Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain).
Lobato, like yesterday, was free to ride for himself and took LottoNL’s best result.
"It was a tough day due to the echelons,” Lobato said. “My sprint was very good, even better than expected.
“Again, I could ride for myself and I saw Dylan in the last kilometre well supported by Tom Leezer, so I decided to ride my sprint on the other side of the road."
Strong winds blew the peloton to bits. With more than 100 kilometres remaining, a sandstorm pushed the group into multiple echelons across the desert roads. Team LottoNL-Jumbo rode attentively to ensure they were always with men in front.
The leading group struggled when the main group formed into echelons. When the desert storm passed, the escapees extend their gap.
The sprint teams, with LottoNL-Jumbo represented, nailed down the front men in the final five kilometres. The last kilometre went downhill and few teams kept their trains on the rails. In the last hundred metres, Degenkolb prevailed in a photo-finish.
Groenewegen continues second in the overall standings and leads the young rider classification.
Tomorrow, the stage climbs towards the Hatta Dam. LottoNL-Jumbo’s new Spaniard, Lobato won the stage last year. For 2017, he wants to do everything repeat the victory.
"I'm excited, although I do not know how it will go,” he added. “I'm still not in top form, but we will do our best."
Niermann saw a sharp team in a chaotic race. He said that the sandstorm was almost too dangerous for a few kilometres.
"The men were well-attentive in the front,” Niermann explained. “We were the instigators of the echelons and so we had six men in the first group."
“The sandstorms were very dangerous, the peloton slowed down because of the sand on the road. It was just acceptable. There was so much sand on the road that the riders protested and slowed down. Not long after, we turned left and it was fine again."