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Having dropped Roche 3km from home, Kangert soloed to the win on Jabel Hafeet. Debesay just held off Ulissi for third. Kangert now leads Roche and Ulissi by 21 and 43 seconds on GC.

Photo: Sirotti






22.10.2016 @ 14:53 Posted by Joseph Doherty

Tanel Kangert has long been known as Vincenzo Nibali’s loyal domestique and had only one win outside of his native Estonia before 2016. In 2016, he rode the Giro and helped Nibali win the race, but added two big stage wins in Giro del Trentino. Now he has added the queen stage of Abu Dhabi Tour and, barring incident tomorrow, the first GC of his career to a growing palmares.


Just like in yesterday’s stage, the first riders to attack from the bunch once the neutral section had come to a close were allowed a gap and the day’s breakaway was formed. BMC’s Olympic Champion Greg Van Avermaet was the biggest name, and he was joined by Michael O'Loughlin (WIGGINS), Marco Coledan (Trek-Segafredo) and Evgeny Shalunov (Gazprom-Rusvelo).


The quartet quickly built up a gap of over five minutes as the course tilted gently downwards for the first 86km of the day. Tinkoff and Astana were the pacesetters in the peloton, with the two best climbers on paper in their ranks with Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali respectively.


With 60km to go, the pace was upped in the bunch and the gap was down to 3:30. Sky’s Michal Kwiatkowski hit the front in a crosswind section as teammate Andy Fenn crashed. Their was a brief echelon but BMC came to the front of group two and dragged themselves and some stragglers across to the Sky led bunch.


At 40km to go, the front group behind the four man break was just around 40-50 riders, and Van Avermaet’s break had just over a minute’s lead. When the dust had settled, it was clear that all of the big names had made the split, including Contador, Nibali and teammate Tanel Kangert, Sky leader Nicolas Roche and race leader Mark Cavendish of Dimension Data.


Van Avermaet and his trio of breakaway companions were absorbed by the front group at a little over 30km from the line. Meanwhile, the dropped riders weren’t bursting themselves to get back on and many were riding tempo as a group.

A lot of the spinters teams came to the front of the group to up the pace, including Orica-BikeExchange. Several Sky riders who had worked so hard to create the echelon were shelled from the group, as was Mark Cavendish.


Just 5km from the start of the climb, Van Avermaet went again and was joined by future teammate Fran Ventoso (Movistar). Astana led the chase with Gatis Smukulis, Latvian champion, and CCC Sprandi were helping them. Cavendish returned to the front group to be beaten for the final spot on the intermediate sprints by Nizzolo (Trek). The duo out front had 16 seconds.


Smukulis swung off as they hit the climb and Ventoso was dropped from the break, with Van Avermaet soon joined him in the autobus with Cavendish and Nizzolo. Carlos Verona (Orica-BikeExchange) jumped from the bunch and was ten seconds clear with just 8.5km to go. BMC maintained their threat by putting pressure on the front with Michi Schaer leading Ben Hermans.


There were still 20 riders chasing Verona in the bunch as Verona’s gap jumped to 30 seconds with 7km to go. The pace still wasn’t high in the bunch as riders like Keukeleire, Wallays, De Kort and Matthews were still all involved in the chase.


Ulissi (Lampre) and Kangert attacked at 7km to go and Roche and Hermans bridged quickly. Kangert countered with Roche as Contador, Nibali and a few others bridged to Ulissi as Verona was caught.


Contador was really struggling and he had teammate Jesper Hansen bring him back to the group after being dropped. At this point, there were ten riders chasing Roche and Kangert. As soon as Contador was back in the group, Hansen stuck in a big attack at 6km from home. His initial move was impressive but he really struggled to get all the way across the gap. At 5km to go, the duo out front had 13 seconds on Hansen and 26 on the Contador/Nibali group.


Hansen was beginning to die and was back in the fold under pressure from Ulissi with 4.5 km to go. Hansen remained on the front working for Contador and Verona, Hermans and Anacona were all dropped. The group was now made up of Nibali, Hansen, Ulissi, Contador, Mekseb Debesay (Dimension Data) and Julian Baernard (Trek).


Bernard was dropped and as Hansen swung off as Debesay attacked and quickly put a bug gap into some classy climbers. Bernard made it back to the front before he and Nibali attacked.


At 3km from home, Kangert dropped Roche out front as Ulissi and Contador were still trying to make it to Nibali and Bernard. Debesay looked comfortable in third place on the road but wasn’t appearing to make inroads into Roche, as Contador and Ulissi made it back to Nibali and Bernard.


With 1.5km to go, Roche was 11 seconds behind Kangert, with Debesay another 13 back and the quartet a further 20 in arrears. Ulissi attacked under the flamme rouge but Kangert was untouchable.


In the end, Kangert took a solo win ahead of Roche and Debesay. Ulissi launched a huge sprint and almost caught the Eritrean, but will take third on GC due to Debesay’s time loss. Contador led Nibali and Bernard across the line for fifth. Roche arrived at 17 seconds, 33 for Debesay and Ulissi, 50 for Contador and Nibali and 52 for Bernard. Hermans, Tusveld and Hansen rounded out the top ten on the day.


This all means that heading into the final processional circuit race on the F1 Yas Marina Circuit, Kangert leads Roche and Ulissi by 21 and 43 seconds respectively.




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