Dylan Groenewegen threw down an early-season marker Friday winning stage five of the UAE Tour.
Winds have scuppered some of the expected sprint finishing this week, but Friday’s flat stage ended in a real mass bunch sprint, with the sprinters’ teams enjoying the broad roads here.
In the sprint, Groenewegen overtook Sam Bennett and held off a late charge from Fernando Gaviria.
Mark Cavendish could only manage eighth in a field packed with pretenders while Monday’s winner Tim Merlier was fifth.
Overall leader and world champion Remco Evenepoel stayed first and holds a narrow nine- second lead over Luke Plapp.
Saturday’s stage should result in a similar scenario with a flat finish and a bunch sprint expected before Sunday’s finale on the Jebel Hafeet mountain.