After an aggressive and active start to the longest stage of the race from CCC Team, it was a strong move from De Marchi off the front of the bunch that forced the day’s breakaway to go clear.
The six-rider group was able to open up an advantage that, after initially settling at around five minutes 40 seconds, was edging closer to the eight-minute mark with 130 kilometers of the 197-kilometer course to go.
De Marchi and his breakaway companions continued to work well together, holding onto a sizeable advantage heading towards the Hajar Mountains and the punchy finale up to Hatta Dam.
However, as the crosswinds picked up inside 70 kilometers to go, so did the pace of the peloton and with sand blowing across the road and into the riders’ faces, the gap began to fall.
With the lead of the De Marchi breakaway down to around three minutes, it looked like the peloton would split behind them after echelons formed under the pressure of the pace and the crosswinds, but, this excitement was shortlived with the bunch coming back together quickly.
The road started to roll more significantly inside 40 kilometers to go, and, at this point, the five remaining leaders, including De Marchi, had been pulled back to within three minutes.
The leaders were not going to give up without a fight though, and with the gap down to less than one minute, it was De Marchi who decided to push the tempo out in front before, unsurprisingly, trying his luck in the final 12 kilometers of the day to be the last man standing from the breakaway.
Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) bridged across to CCC Team’s lone leader before taking over position at the head of the race with nine kilometers to go as De Marchi, after a hugely impressive ride all day, was swept up by the chasing bunch.
CCC Team moved up to the front of the peloton just a couple of kilometers later to put pressure on the rest of the field, but with gradients of up to 17 percent in the final 200 meters, it was clear that the short but definitely sharp climb up to the finish line would be where the stage was won.
In the end, it was Caleb Ewan (Lotto – Soudal) who went on to take the honors with De La Parte CCC Team’s first rider across the line alongside Patrick Bevin in the first group on the road, just five seconds back.
De La Parte continues to sit eighth on the General Classification, 1 minute 12 seconds behind Roglič, heading into stage five, which should be another one for the sprinters in the race.
Quotes From the Finish Line
Alessandro De Marchi:
“In the end, today was simply about finding a different way to enjoy this race. The last two days were a little bit boring for me, so I wanted to try and do something. I am still warming up for the season, and this was a good effort as I look forward to my next races and the rest of this race.”
“We knew it would be difficult to make it and we had a chance with the wind at one point but, it just wasn’t a strong enough group to stay out in front. You really had to push hard to stay in front of the bunch in those last 30 kilometers with the tailwind.”
“The crosswinds section was a challenging moment for everyone. It was not only difficult to see what was in front of you but it was also difficult to control the bike with the wind whipping the sand up off the road and into your face. At that point, I think we were really on the limit and actually, it was good to be in the front. I think in the peloton, it would have been even crazier. It was definitely easier to deal with in a smaller group.”
Victor De La Parte:
“Today was a really tough and stressful stage especially with the wind and the sandstorms. As a team, we did a really good job, and with De Marchi riding in the breakaway, we had different options to try to fight for the victory. After he was caught, we tried to set it up for Paddy, who is in good shape, but in the end, we didn’t find the right position at the bottom of the climb. It was a brutal final climb and I think everyone was at the limit so I was happy to be able to stick with the GC guys and keep my place in the top ten.”
Sports Director, Jackson Stewart:
“The plan was to try to have someone in the breakaway today and we achieved that with De Marchi finally able to force the move. We thought that a bigger, maybe even a stronger group, would go but in the end, there just wasn’t enough power there to get the sort of time gap needed. However, De Marchi always gives it 100% in the breakaway and he showed that today by going solo in the final. He rode a really great race.”
“We then gave it a go with the guys going up to the front of the breakaway just before the crash with around six kilometers to go. We maybe went up there a little too early but De La Parte stayed protected and we were able to maintain his position on the General Classification. From what I saw, it looked like we just didn’t get Paddy where he needed to be for the final.”
Stage 4: The Pointe – Palm Jumeirah > Hatta Dam (197km)
Top 3: 1. Caleb Ewan (Lotto – Soudal) 2. Matteo Moschetti (Trek-Segafredo) 3. Primož Roglič (Team Jumbo-Visma)
CCC Team Top 3: 28. Victor De La Parte 36. Patrick Bevin 45. Joey Rosskopf