Elia Viviani reigned supreme on the fifth and final stage of the Dubai Tour, netting Quick-Step Floors’ fourth straight GC triumph at the Middle East race, which has served the team well since 2015, the year of our first victory. For the impressive Viviani, it was the second overall win of his career, nearly five years after coming out on top in the Tour of Elk Grove, a short stage race in the United States.
The Italian, whose previous best overall result at the Dubai Tour was a fifth place, went into the final day of the event with a two-second buffer over Magnus Cort (Astana) in the rankings, after putting in a brave fight on the Hatta Dam climb. Protected by the same infallible Quick-Step Floors six-man squad that marshalled the peloton since the opening stage, Elia didn’t need to worry when four riders escaped and established a 4:30-gap, as his teammates took it to the front and cut the deficit, before bringing the attackers back with ten kilometers to go.
As expected, other teams got in the mix to set up the final bunch gallop of the Dubai Tour, and the nervousness that ensued led to a crash on the last right hand corner of the stage, taking several riders to the ground, while others found themselves blocked behind the pile-up.
That incident also meant Viviani had to put in quite the effort to close the gap to the ones in the front, which he did thanks to the help of an impeccable Fabio Sabatini – who once again proved why he is one of the best lead-out men in the business – before opening the sprint with 100 meters remaining and overhauling Marco Haller (Katusha-Alpecin) and Adam Blythe (Aqua Blue Sport) for his third victory of the season, one which landed him also the beautiful “Circle of Stars” trophy.
Minutes after crossing the line, an ecstatic Elia made an analysis of the chaotic, crash-marred finale: “This morning I tried to stay relaxed, but now I must admit that I was very nervous, because my margin in the general classification was a slender one. Our tactic was to let join the break only riders who weren’t posing a danger in the overall, so we don’t have to pull all day long, because I needed all my six teammates for the closing part of the stage. In the final kilometer, Saba did an outstanding job, avoiding the crash, then closing the gap and leading me out. All I had to do was patiently wait, because we had a headwind, and it was important to leave it as late as possible.”
Viviani is one of the seven riders to have joined Quick-Step Floors before the start of 2018, and now, just one month into his season, he boasts four victories, a remarkable amount after three races with the squad, which he credited as the main reason for his superb results since the beginning of the year.
“I came to this team in order to become one of the best sprinters in the world, and 90% of what I have achieved here in Dubai is Quick-Step Floors’ merit. The boys are extraordinary, they rallied around me and offered their huge support, while Brian Holm laid out a perfect tactic. The goal was to win the GC, but at the same time we decided to take it day by day and see what happens. Two stage wins and the general classification is a fantastic way to close out the week. I’m very happy with how I started the season and the good form I have, it gives me even more confidence for my future races”, concluded the Italian, who wrapped up the Dubai Tour also with the red jersey – for the most consistent rider in the points standings – in the bag.