The Spanish waves in the finale of the Abu Dhabi Tour 2018. Alejandro Valverde rounded of the race in the Emirates with a stage win beating Miguel Angel Lopez in a sprint to the finish line on Jebel Hafeet. Not even Julian Alaphilippe (QuickStep – Floors) could follow the explosive action on the climb – his third place arrival was fifteen seconds in arrears. Although Rohan Dennis (BMC) looked strongest in yesterday’s time trial, today he came undone, allowing the Spaniard to turn the tables in the final general classification.
The queen stage of the short stage race in the Emirates come alive just a few kilometers off the start line. Several attempts were made to form a break but not all would stick. It was a group of nine riders that formed eventually: Rudy Barbier (AG2R La Mondiale), Niccolò Bonifazio (Bahrain – Merida), Matthias Brandle (Trek – Segafredo), Michael Bresciani (Bardiani – CSF), Lawson Craddock (EF Education First-Drapac p / b Cannondale), Nikolay Trusov (Gazprom – Rusvelo), Joonas Henttala (Novo Nordisk), Frederik Frison and André Greipel (Lotto Soudal). The peloton allowed these nine ample breathing with the gap extending as far as 10 minutes after 50 kilometers of racing.
The gap eventually narrowed and leaving the breakaway to start the final climb with an advantage of only 2 minutes. Craddock, Bonifazio, and Greipel work together to separate themselves early on but the chase is on and the gap reduced to just one minute at 8 kilometers from the finish. It wasn’t a great day for Ion Izagirre (Bahrain – Merida) who was forced to stop for a puncture at this late juncture. With the gap coming down rapidly, Davide Formolo (Bora – Hansgrohe) takes his chance with 7kms remaining. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) finds Formolo’s wheel immediately and the two speed of passing first Greipel then Craddock.
With Rohan Dennis (BMC) dropped from the group and the GC opening up, Julian Alaphilippe (QuickStep – Floors) and Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) make their moves. Formolo is the first casualty of the break when Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) arrives working for his colleague Wilco Kelderman. The winner of the 2017 Giro d’Italia buries himself putting on a huge turn of speed at 5 kilometers from the finish but Kelderman, Rafal Majka (Bora – Hansgrohe), Formolo and Niklas Eg (Trek – Segafredo) return to the fore.
This regrouping at the head of the race saw a deceleration in the pace at which point Lopez makes for a solo break. Nobody can follow the Colombian’s rhythm initially and he gains a few bike-lengths on his pursuers. Valverde made his decisive move shortly after at 3 kilometers from the line, catching Lopez within a few seconds.
Alaphilippe tried to match him but the Frenchman was quickly consumed back into Majka and Kelderman group. Lopez and Valverde work to take 20 seconds on their three pursuers by the flamme-rouge. The two protagonists then proceeded to battle it out for the victory, which went to the aging Murcian.
Stage 5 Results – Abu Dhabi Tour 2018
1. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
2. Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) +0”
3. Julian Alaphilippe (QuickStep – Floors) +15”
4. Rafal Majka (Bora – Hansgrohe) +15”
5. Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) +15”
6. Davide Formolo (Bora – Hansgrohe) +37”
7. Niklas Eg (Trek – Segafredo) +47”
8. Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) +55”
9. Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) +55”
10. Antwan Tolhoek (Lotto NL – Jumbo) +55”
General Classification – Abu Dhabi Tour 2018
1. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
5. Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) +17”
3. Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) +29”
4. Julian Alaphilippe (QuickStep – Floors) +31”
5. Rafal Majka (Bora – Hansgrohe) 45”
6. Davide Formolo (Bora – Hansgrohe) +1’13”
7. Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) +1’18”
8. Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) +1’28”
9. Rohan Dennis (BMC) +1’29”
10. Emanuel Buchmann (Bora – Hansgrohe) +1’37”