- - UAE Tour 2024 Stage 5

UAE Tour 2024 Stage 5

photo credits @ UAE Tour

Olav Kooij (Visma-Lease a Bike) claimed stage 5 of the UAE Tour today, narrowly beating Tim Merlier (Soudal-QuickStep) in a photo finish. 

Kooij sprinted off the wheel of Mark Cavendish (Astana Qazaqstan), who had a strong lead-out from Michael Morkov but was unable to take it to the line, with Kooij surging past the Manxman on the right-hand side of the road.

Meanwhile, Kooij’s closest challengers initially appeared to be Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Sam Welsford (Bora-Hansgrohe) until two-time stage winner Merlier jutted out from further down the pack and out into the open road on the left.

With a last ditched bike throw, Kooij nixed Merlier on the line to seize the day’s honors by mere millimeters. 

“I didn’t know, so we had to wait a bit, but I’m really happy,” said Kooij, who collected the 30th victory of his young career, and his sixth at WorldTour level.

“After the first two sprints, it got better, but you need to get everything right to get the win,” he explained. “I never hit too much wind, with the headwind, and I tried to get a good position through the last roundabout. I thought maybe I was a bit far but I could follow Mark Cavendish on the right and luckily there was still a little gap so I could pass.”

Race Highlights

Harm Vanhoucke (Lotto Dstny) and Lennert Van Eetvelt marked the day’s first breakaway effort, with Jacopo Mosca (Lidl-Trek) later joining them.

Van Eetvelt started the day 43 seconds down on race leader Jay Vine (UAE Team Emirates) and 12th overall after Rainer Kepplinger (Bahrain Victorious) was unfortunately forced to abandon with a broken hand sustained in a crash on stage 4.

As a result, the Belgian rider became the virtual leader on the road as the trio’s advantage grew to more than five minutes. He wasn’t hoping to make it to the finish with that lead but instead wanted the six bonus seconds available on the 182km route from Al Aqah to Umm Al Quwain.

Van Eetvelt swept up both intermediate sprints at Al Saadi Roundabout and Al Lebsa, moving him up to equal ninth overall with Vine’s teammate Mikkel Bjerg with a 37-second deficit to the Australian.

Mosca was the last of the escapees to get caught by the peloton with 40km to go.

From there, a large number of teams traded turns on the front of the peloton going into the final 10km, and it was notable that the red jersey of overall leader Vine was on the front and in the wind at the head of the UAE line for a good kilometer or so.

When it came to the final few kilometers, Bora-Hansgrohe moved up, and Movistar gave it a big nudge through a pair of late roundabouts. Bahrain Victorious muscled their way to the front, and Intemarché-Wanty similarly got involved ahead of the final kilometer while Cavendish patiently followed Morkov just behind. But, as Mørkøv pulled off and Cavendish started his sprint, it was clear he didn’t have the speed.

In the meantime, Kooij had latched onto his wheel and the Brit allowed him enough of a gap up the inside of the barriers to come around. On the left-hand side of the road, Welsford had been piloted successfully enough by Danny van Poppel and launched his charge with Merlier in close pursuit.

The trio came to the line in a blanket finish with neither Merlier nor Kooij sure if they had taken the victory. As the photo finish came in, it was the Dutchman who had just come out on top with Merlier just a tire’s width behind at the line.

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