photo credits @ Saudi Tour
Ruben Guerreiro (Movistar) secured the overall title in the Saudi Tour today, while Simone Consonni (Cofidis) claimed the final stage after overhauling Dylan Groenewegen (Jayco-AlUla) on a long and rising sprint finish in Maraya.
Things got argy-bargy when Groenewegen bumped shoulders with a couple of Jonathan Milan’s Bahrain Victorious teammates during chaotic, final kilometer became chaotic, forcing the Dutch rider to take up the pace. Yet, despite an effective lead-out from his teammate Luka Mezgec during the closing 300 meters, the Jayco-AlUla rider quickly faded, with Consonni taking advantage of his slipstream to seize the stage honors.
Meanwhile, Matteo Malucelli (Bingoal-WB) came up with a powerful sprint to take second place just behind Consonni, with Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) piping Groenewegen for the final podium spot.
“I started at 300 meters and it felt like three kilometres. In the last 50 meters I was thinking about the team pursuit and I was wanting to push until the end. This win is really important for me and the team,” Consonni said after celebrating with his Cofidis teammates.
It was widely anticipated that the final 143 kilometer stage five between AIUla Old Town and Maraya would be relatively incident free, with the Portuguese rider just needing to tackle a tricky looking gravel section before wrapping up the title.
Once the racing was under way, a breakaway involving Marcus Sander Hansen of Uno-X wearing the blue jersey as the most active rider established itself. Sander-Hansen was joined by two men from Italian outfit Corratec, Txomin Juraisti of Euskaltel-Euskadi, Kamil Malecki of Q36.5 and Ceriel Desal of Bingoal WB.
With 34 kilometers left to race, the breakaway had a lead of just one minute and the riders were fast approaching an eight kilometer gravel section. Meanwhile panic was starting to rip through the main field as the peloton approached the dirt road, with teams looking to protect their star men.
With 27 kilometers to go, and the breakaway were off the gravel section with the peloton hot in pursuit. All riders escaped relatively incident free from the particular section although the breakaways lead had been slashed to under 40 seconds.
With an eye to the finish, Mark Donovan of Q36.5 launched an attack looking to bridge across to the tiring leaders. Jayco AIUla assembled on the front of the peloton looking to up the tempo and potentially set up Dylan Groenewegen for another win.
As the breakaway reached the intermediate sprint point, the charge for the remaining points available was uncontested with Sander-Hansen snapping up what was left.
With 13 kilometers left to race, and the leaders were beginning to look over their shoulders. Desal and Sander Hansen were looking to push on, although with the peloton just 32 seconds behind, the catch seemed inevitable. Movistar were leading the charge in the peloton looking to ensure Guerreiro was protected until the end in what was shaping up to be a frantic sprint finish.
With 3.8 kilometers to go and the peloton were onto the leaders thanks to sterling work from Uno-X. At one kilometer remaining, once the peloton had the leaders back in their midst, Jayco AIUla forced Uno-X out of the way looking to begin their lead-out for Groenewegen.
Once Jayco AIUla began to accelerate, other riders including Astana’s Cees Bol and Cofidis’ Italian fast man Simone Consonni were onto them. Despite a powerful turn of speed from Luca Mezgec, Groenewegen mistimed his effort and kicked for the line too early on the uphill drag.
Bol and Consonni were straight onto the tiring Dutchman, with the Italian managing to push on and power away from his rivals to take a stunning win for Cofidis to wrap up the 2023 edition of the Saudi Tour.
You must be logged in to post a comment.