The third edition of the Abu Dhabi Tour and the first since the event was awarded WorldTour status proved worthy of the sensational field of top riders who assembled at Yas Marina Circuit last week.
As expected, the 2017 Abu Dhabi Tour was the biggest and best since the race’s inception – and one whose scale and impact is demonstrated by the facts and figures below.
The 22-year-old Orica-Scott rider clenched his fists and let out an audible roar as he crossed the finish line under the lights of Yas Marina Circuit safely in first place.
It was a nice way to end the Tour for the young Aussie after he raised his arms in premature celebration on Friday’s Stage 2 thinking he had won the stage, only to admit a rookie error that saw him pipped by half a bike wheel on the line at Al Marina which engulfed him in embarrassment.
Ewan admitted the error had been playing on his mind and he joked with reporters after his victory that he kept cycling well beyond the line just to make sure he had been successful.
“I think I sprinted past the line just to make sure,” he added, after claiming the final stage win of the Tour ahead of Team Dimension Data rider Mark Cavendish and Lotto Soudal’s Andre Greipel.
“It did go through my mind the whole race (not to raise my arms at the line), to make sure I sprint the whole way past the line just to make sure there was no repeat of Stage 2. “
It had been a nightmare start to the Tour for the youngster. A crash on the opening stage saw him finish well down the field, and then came his horrible mistake the following day.
Despite last night’s win, Ewan admitted the thought of coming away with two stage wins will stay with him for a while.
“I’ll forget about the crash obviously. There’s still a bit of disappointment at the fact I could’ve had two stage wins,” he said.
“I think it’s more disappointing that it wasn’t a fault in my form or performance, it was a really silly mistake and I think it will annoy me for a little bit, but it would annoy me more if I didn’t win today.
“But winning today and beating those guys will help me get over that al lot easier.”
Ultimately, Ewan was just pleased he could make up for Friday’s mistake with his hard-working team-mates.
“It feels great to get the win and repay my team for what I did on Friday,” he added.
“To be honest, after the (second) stage I was a bit worried they’d be angry with me but they all laughed it off. I think if I had done it again today then there would’ve been a problem.
“They’re a great bunch of people and they probably knew I was bashing myself up over it. They were joking around a little bit but it was all good.”
The win was a watershed moment for his team, UAE Team Emirates, who claimed a home triumph barely two months after being unveiled as the 18th and last team to enter the UCI WorldTour.
The 30-year-old broke with 6km to go, halfway up the grueling climb that signals the end of Stage 3.
Russian rider Zakarin challenged him but it was the failure of a bunch of high-profile stars that failed to catch the leaders that caught the attention, with Nairo Quintana, Fabio Aru and Vincenzo Nibali all trailing a minute or so behind.
Costa held off the challenge of Zakarin, finishing in a time of 4:34:08, seconds ahead of the Russian, while Team Sunweb’s Tom Dumoulin gave chase but was 10 seconds back in third.
The final stage is entirely on Yas Island. There are 26 laps of the Yas Marina circuit, each of 5.5km with three Intermediate Sprints as we count down to the finale. The first Intermediate Sprint is on lap 11 with 15 laps to go, the second at 10 laps to go and the last Intermediate Sprint comes with just five laps to go.
In 2015, during the Yas Island Stage, for the first time ever in a men’s professional road race, live on-board bike camera footage was made available and used for live television race coverage.