Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi > Abu Dhabi Breakwater 165.6km
The last chance for the sprinters. Another boring day lies ahead, thank God Omloop is also on. This finish has been used before, but the road in to the final 1.5km is different.
Hot and sunny. There’s not much wind around, but the sprint is headwind, yet again.
We’re back on wide roads for the finale of the stage, until the final 500m or so. There’s a gentle curve in the final 150m, being on the left is the best place to be.
Stage 4 was chaos on wide roads, stage 5 was better organised due to narrower roads, but now we’re back on wide roads again. The issue for the sprint trains is not just getting to the front, but then holding that position. Stage 5 was good for those teams who got to the front early, but this finish can be won by a team surging forward in the final kilometre.
The teams with the longer sprint trains naturally have more men to keep pace, they should have a slight advantage over the squads who are hanging back. Jayco and Lotto have the longest trains, they’ll hope to be bossing the final kilometre, but stage 3 is a great example of how these finishes can end in a surprise.
Dylan Groenewegen – took a brilliant win in stage 5, as predicted by yours truly! He has a long sprint train to support him, that gives him an advantage over his rivals. Now that he has a win, the pressure is off his shoulders, which means he could be a little bolder in the finale. He’s been up there in both sprints; it would be a surprise to not see him challenging for the win.
Sam Bennett – his sprint train worked very well in stage 5, almost too well. The problem was the headwind, those sitting in Sam’s wheel always stood a better chance of taking the win, it’s one of those weird things in sprinting. The team will be happy with how the final 3km went; it was much better than in stage 4. If they can do something similar in this stage, Sam will be one of the men to beat.
Caleb Ewan – won here in 2021, surging past Sam Bennett in the closing metres. Coming back to a finish where you’ve won before is always good for the sprinters, Caleb will start this stage with confidence. His sprint train isn’t firing yet, but they will improve with every race they do together. I’m never a fan of criticising riders, I do so with reluctance, but I think the team need to have a rethink about where Schwarzmann sits in the train. He’s a solid rider but not fast enough to do a job in the final 3km. When Caleb won in 2021, it was after a week of not looking very good, it sounds like this year.
Sam Welsford – he was too far back today with 3km to go and couldn’t get up to launch his sprint from the front. DSM are one man down in terms of their train, that makes life hard for them. In this finish, they might take a risk and get to the front early, hoping that Welsford can look after himself in the final kilometre. He’s got the power to win.
Tim Merlier – with just Van Lerberghe in the final 2km, it’s always going to be very hard for him to take the win. The two of them form a strong partnership, but they need to carry luck with them in these finishes. He’s already got one stage win, but he would love a second.
Olav Kooij – was up there in stage 4, but not in stage 5. As I’ve mentioned before, his sprint train is good, but not as good as some. He’s another who knows he has the speed required to win a stage but needs a good position in the final 500m.
I liked what I saw from Bora today, I’ll take a win for Sam Bennett.
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