Alex Dowsett, like his new Katusha-Alpecin leader Marcel Kittel, is refusing to panic about a lack of success in the Dubai Tour sprints, insisting that the team is “going in the right direction” as they work out the kinks in their lead-out train.
While Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors), Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) won sprints at the Dubai Tour, Kittel’s best result was a frustrating third on stage 3. The Katusha-Alpecin lead-out train worked hard to set up the German sprinter but other sprinters were always better placed and faster or Kittel struggled to find a way through the chaos.
“To think that we’d rock up at the Dubai Tour and be a well-oiled machine from the word go is wrong,” Dowsett told Cyclingnews.
“The sprints at the Dubai Tour were chaotic. There were a lot of big-name, super-fast sprinters and a lot of experienced sprint trains. It was also the first race of the season for a lot of riders and with pan-flat stages, so every Tom, Dick and Harry thought they’re a sprinter and want to try to win.”
“We believe we’re constantly going in the right direction. We’ve had our plans for each stage. On stage 3 we stuck to our plan, executed the plan well and it almost came off. Other times someone messed it up in some shape or form. On stage 2 it was my fault and I put my hand up and apologised. But we’ll get better and better, we’ll get it right.”
“Once we get into races like Tirreno-Adriatico and other stage races, where other teams have different objectives, then it’ll be a lot easier to be a more cohesive, slick team.”
Dowsett confirmed that tension was running high in the team after stage 2 when the train fragmented in the finale and Kittel could only finish 17th. Some heated words were exchanged as the riders got changed in the shade of a tree post-stage but Kittel kept a cool head in defeat and preferred to encourage rather than criticise his riders.
New role but freedom to target time trials
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