Elia Viviani has all but won the points jersey at the fourth edition of the Abu Dhabi Tour – the season’s third World Tour event – after extending his margin following another top 5 result, this time in Big Flag, where stage 3 concluded in a bunch sprint from which Phil Bauhaus (Team Sunweb) emerged victorious.
Well supported by his Quick-Step Floors teammates, Elia made the cut once things became hectic with 43 kilometers to go, due to the strong crosswinds which shattered the peloton after the second intermediate sprint, won by the 29-year-old Italian. Following a brief attempt of some teams to open a sizeable gap, the race came back together when the wind changed direction, blowing hard from the front this time.
From that point on, it turned into a déjà-vu, with James Knox moving to the front of the bunch and remaining there until the final ten kilometers, when the sprinters’ teams began jostling for position. Unfortunately, the Quick-Step Floors lead-out train was left without the invaluable help of Michael Mørkøv, who punctured in the final, which meant Fabio Sabatini had to double his efforts in the last 500 meters of the stage.
“We controlled the race with Alvaro and James, who were incredible and worked really hard; actually, the entire team was great again, protecting me in the crosswinds and delivering me in a good position at the finish. I came out of the last corner with 500 meters to go piloted by Saba, but unfortunately the stiff headwind was a big factor, even bigger than on the first day. I’m a bit frustrated for not getting the win, but that’s cycling: sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t”, said Elia, who finds himself in pole-position to take home his second points jersey of the season, after the one in the Dubai Tour.
“I am satisfied after these flat stages, because I have the leader’s jersey and a hefty advantage in the green jersey classification, thanks to three top 5 placings and today’s intermediate sprint. Now I’ll go full gas in the time trial and then try to help our GC guys on the fifth stage.”