After having failed to get it right in the first to stages of this year's Dubai Tour, Degenkolb was today delivered perfectly in the sprint by his Trek-Segafredo leadout train and this time chose to wait until the final meters before accelerating to pass around Janse van Rensburg of Team Dimension Data.
"I am very happy with this victory. I really wanted to get this win for the whole team. They did such a tremendous job in today's stage and they really deserve the win," Degenkolb told Roadcycling.com following the stage.
"It was pretty hard the last two kilometers of the race," he continued. "We had to come from pretty far back, but as a united team we kept really calm and waited for the right moment. We stayed together and helped each other and in the end we formed a super good leadout so I could jump on Kiel Reijnen's wheel and then luckily I could overtake van Rensburg in the last few meters. It was just perfect, the timing was exactly right."
The powerful and dangerous dessert wind finally showed its head in the 200-kilometer stage 3, first as a blistering tailwind, then in a wild sand-complimented crosswind that caused echelons to form in the peloton. During one phase of racing, Degenkolb was caught in the second group with race leader Marcel Kittel. The two groups, however, eventually merged.
"It was truly amazing. A wild, crazy and epic stage I think," Degenkolb explained. "I was at the limit all day. In the crosswinds, I wasn't immediately in the first group, but I fought hard to rejoin them. During the stage, I was thinking "we are crazy we're doing this." So we spoke to the officials to find a solution we all could be happy with, but by the time we did this, it was clear the weather conditions would improve in a few moments."
"Races like these are also mental games. It is great to get such great support from your teammates. For me, that's crucial because these races you also win in your head. The team kept believing in me even if I didn't feel super great after the sandstorm."
Noteworthingly, the Commisaires Panel decided to disqualify Astana Pro Cycling Team's Andrey Grivko due to "Acts of violence among riders."
Germany's Marcel Kittel managed to hang on to his general classification lead for his QuickStep Floors team despite being punched in the face by Grivko in today's stage.
"I'm happy that I have no more injury than a cut on my face. Grivko made a choice (to punch), but it was for sure the wrong one. What he did is disappointing for the sport," Kittel explained after the stage.
"I may have lost my focus for the sprint, but I'm glad I'm still in the overall lead. The organizers of the Dubai Tour are very well known for taking the right decisions when it comes to extreme weather, so I’m hoping for good racing conditions tomorrow. It would be nice to retain the overall title."
Due to the poor weather conditions that are currently dominant in Hatta and a weather forecast, which is predicting further deterioration later Friday, the Race Management, in agreement with the Commissaires Panel, have since activated the UCI's Extreme Weather Protocol and thus cancelled stage 4 of the 2017 Dubai Tour.