Kittel keeps blue jersey
Quick-Step Floors' German sprinter continues to lead the Dubai Tour with two stages left.
Crosswinds and sand played havoc at the Dubai Tour, taking to the ground several riders and splitting the field to pieces 70 kilometers into stage 3. It took 20 kilometers for the shattered peloton to come back together, and once this happened, Luxembourg champion Bob Jungels took the front and knocked one minute off in just two kilometers, as the gap of the escapees tumbled down to three minutes for the last 55 kilometers of the stage, which was set to conclude in Al Aqah, another new finish for the Middle East race.
Jungels, Davide Martinelli, Maximilian Schachmann and Julien Vermote traded turns at the head of the bunch and melted the advantage of the four breakaway riders, before reabsorbing them with only three kilometers left. The last 500 meters were in a slight uphill and the sprint trains had again difficulties in getting themselves together, as many riders couldn't find space for maneuvering. In the end, John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) edged his opponents and took the win ahead of Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (Dimension Data) and Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida).
A double stage winner at this edition, Marcel Kittel was boxed out during the sprint and couldn't fight for victory at the end of the stage which saw Andriy Grivko (Astana) inflict an injury on him, after sending a punch above his left eye. That blow left Marcel with a deep cut and blood streaming down his face: "Today's race was confusing because of the sandstorm and a lot of teams had to sacrifice many guys in the kilometers before the finish because of this. I think everyone felt how hard it was today, and many guys were on the limit at one point. That made the stage really tough", said Marcel Kittel right after the finish in Al Aqah.
The German then went on to explain the incident in which he was involved with Grivko, who eventually was expelled from the race by the jury: "When we passed a construction site, the sand began blowing and as soon as we went into the crosswinds we were fighting for position, which is always stressful, and Andriy Grivko punched me. I really can't understand how he can do something like that. I get that riding in the crosswinds is always tense, but it gives him no right to act like that. He could have hurt my eye. It's a real shame what happened. In the finale, my mind wasn't 100% on the sprint, but I am happy I have no big injuries and I kept the lead."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele