Alejandro Valverde seals Abu Dhabi Tour title

David Cooper 25/02/2018
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Alejandro Valverde won the Abu Dhabi Tour after claiming victory in the final stage on Sunday.

The 37-year-old Spaniard, riding for Movistar, went head-to-head with Astana’s Miguel Angel Lopez on the summit of Jebel Hafeet after the pair broke clear with four kilometres remaining.

And it was Valverde who came out on top to win the stage and the overall race, finishing 17 seconds ahead of Team Sunweb’s Wilco Kelderman.

Overnight leader Rohan Dennis struggled on the climb and could not keep the pace while time trial world champion Tom Dumoulin suffered a mechanical problem for the second time in as many days.

More to follow…

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Tom Dumoulin fails to show true colours in rainbow jersey but can shine on Abu Dhabi Tour's final stage

Matt Jones 24/02/2018
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Tom Dumoulin claimed third on Jebel Hafeet a year ago.

It was supposed to be a red-letter day for Tom Dumoulin, but the only thing that was red was the roadside as he was left bloodied and a little embarrassed by a crash that ruined his chances of time trial glory at the Abu Dhabi Tour.

The Dutchman looked resplendent in his rainbow jersey as the reigning world time trial champion rolled off the start ramp on Al Maryah Island with the aim of ramping up his bid for general classification glory.

As UAE Team Emirates rider Alexander Kristoff is afforded the opportunity to wear white for the majority of the season thanks to his European road race victory in 2017 – so too is Dumoulin allowed to wear his stripes at time trial races following his gold in Norway last September.

He may well have switched to the rainbow jersey for Stage 4, but Dumoulin definitely didn’t show his true colours as the crash saw him slump down the standings, although he did recover sufficiently to claim 12th place – 30 seconds adrift of winner Rohan Dennis – leaving him ninth overall.

Dennis hopes to transition from time trial specialist to GC contender in 2018, with Dumoulin his muse. And the Dutchman might do well to reflect on his own career-shaping 2017 to find inspiration as he looks to overhaul Dennis and claim overall victory on Sunday.

Dumoulin trod the path to transitioning from specialist to all-rounder in 2017 – the Team Sunweb star famously won a first Grand Tour title at the Giro d’Italia, capping a stunning season with time trial glory.

But it was on Jebel Hafeet 12 months ago where the seeds for 2017 success were sewn for Dumoulin – as he rose to the occasion on the daunting ascent on Stage 3 to claim third behind winner Rui Costa and second-placed Ilnur Zakarin – both climbing specialists.

It proved Dumoulin could cut it as a GC man. He finished just 10 seconds behind Costa, while leaving the likes of famed mountain men Fabio Aru, Rafał Majka and Nairo Quintana trailing in his wake.

Though he will have been desperately disappointed by his debut in the rainbow jersey, Dumoulin is unlikely to dwell long on his Stage 4 debacle.

There is still stage and silverware to be won on Sunday’s summit. And the Maastricht maestro must continue to concentrate on the future as he looks to become a cycling master.

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BMC's Miles Scotson puts more miles on the clock on a brilliant day at Abu Dhabi Tour

Matt Jones 24/02/2018
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Miles Scotson grabbed third in Stage 4 of the Abu Dhabi Tour.

Miles Scotson completed a dream day for BMC Racing as the young Australian put some more miles on the clock of his professional career with a fine third-place finish on Stage 4 of the Abu Dhabi Tour.

Scotson zipped round the short 12.6km time trial stage around Al Maryah and Al Reem Island in a brisk 14m 37.14s – finishing just over a second behind Team Sky’s Jonathan Castroviejo and 15 behind BMC colleague Rohan Dennis.

The duo were joined in the top 10 by teammates Brent Bookwalter, who finished sixth, and Patrick Bevin in eighth, with other team-mates Joseph Rosskopf (16th) and Damiano Caruso (23rd) claiming finishes inside the top 25.

And Campbelltown native Scotson was pleased with a good day both collectively and personally.

“We’re a bit of a time trial team so four in the top 10 is a great day for us, especially with some pretty established time trialists in the field,” said the 24-year-old, who has made a name for himself since arriving on the WorldTour with BMC last season.

“Rohan put a good gap into the GC guys which is perfect and when he doesn’t have bad luck he really smashes time trials and he did that today. Four in the top 10 is great and shows the team is in good shape which we’ll need to hold onto red jersey.”

Scotson won the road race title at the Australian National Road Championships in his debut campaign with the Swiss team and admits a podium place in Abu Dhabi – as well as taking charge if the white jersey for best young rider – gives him confidence for the future.

“For me it was my first top three in a WorldTour time trial. It’s taken me 12 months since the U23s to have the strength and power to match to the top guys so I’m happy with today,” he added.

“I’ve been solid the last year. I had some top 10s in WorldTour time trials last year but top three in a strong field was a confidence boost. It wasn’t a long course which suits me, I would have preferred a shorter one, but I’m happy with third.

“Next for me is some Classics coming up. After this I’ll just stick to one day races and maybe I’ll do some one week races like Tour of California which will give me the chance to test myself again in the time trial. It’s all a learning curve.”

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