The harsh desert will feature more prominently on Stage 3, leaving the city roads which we have become accustomed as the peloton seek out the lumps and bumps of the surrounding area. Similar to last year’s stage which finished atop the Hatta Dam, Stage 3 will once again be an uphill finish but has reduced the amount of hills preceding it to make a less selective process. A total of 172km from start to finish, climbs en route to Hatta reach double-digit gradients and will certainly drain the legs before any sprint for the line can be ignited. The final selection will begin 3km from the finish as the road rises right the way to the line, gradients here reach as high as 17% and are poised to be the setting of another fantastic uphill battle.
Despite a reputation for poor positioning, the expectation of having greater support here than last year should help Juan José Lobato to build on his 3rd place in 2015 if everything goes to plan. Philippe Gilbert stretched his legs on Stage 1 in the concluding moments of the race and appears in strong condition on a finish which should play to his strengths convincingly on day three. The alteration to this year’s latter stages to Hatta Dam could make it a more open affair, possibly bringing somebody such as Rui Costa into contention, should he find himself in good form; his target usually lie a little later in the year however.
1st Juan José Lobato 2nd Philippe Gilbert 3rd Rui Costa