The penultimate stage of the Saudi Tour started at the Wadi Namar Park and had its big showdown at the Al Mazuhimiya King Saud University after 137 challenging kilometers.
As usual a group of riders built the day’s break and was gone for most of the stage before the peloton caught the escapees shortly before the finale. The race tackled the Qiddiya climb, where the race fell into pieces. Yuriy Natarov represented the Astana Pro Team colors in the first chasing group and showed a good performance.
The race went on fire as two riders pulled away in the last 6 kilometers, while Astana Pro Team stayed together in the reduced bunch, working for their sprinter Yevgeniy Gidich. As expected it all came back together as the race headed into the final stretch of the day. The Kazakh team did a stellar job in delivering their sprinter into a perfect position. In a fast bunch sprint, Yevgeniy Gidich gave his all and raced to a strong third place.
Unfortunately, teammate Hernando Bohorquez was involved in a crash on the last roundabout, but he managed to get back on the bike, finishing the stage some minutes later.
- I am quite happy with my result today. We were aiming this stage because it suited us well. With two hard climbs and hot weather we knew it could be possible to drop some sprinters and to try to get a nice result at the finish. So, everything worked out quite well. I did my best in the finale and this third place in the sprint with Bouhanni is a good achievement. Today, the whole team worked absolutely fantastic and I want to thank my teammates for the huge support I had today. On the final climb, the guys helped me to get a good position at the front, so I passed the climb without any problems. Later, our team did a great job together with NTT to bring the late breakaway back. Zhandos Bizhigitov did a nice attack in the finale, but when he was caught back, it was up to me to do the sprint and I gave my best, - said Yevgeniy Gidich.
-Today was the last chance for the GC riders to shake up the overall classification. Therefore, we waited until the last two climbs to make the best out of the GC battle and launched some attacks. Our plan was to distance some fast men, to go for the victory with Yevgeniy. The team did a great job and worked really well together. It came all back together at the end and he sprinted to a third place, which gives us confidence for the upcoming races, - explained Sports Director Dmitri Sedoun after the stage.
Tomorrow’s final stage takes the riders from the Princess Nourah University to Al Masmak over 144 kilometers.
Photo: @ Getty Images