The 172 km fourth stage of the Dubai Tour ended with a nail-biting finish for Brandon McNulty and Rally Cycling. The 19 year old former world junior time trial champion from Phoenix, Arizona came within 50 meters of winning the biggest race in program history. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) won the stage while Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) maintained his overall lead.
“To be in a situation where the world’s top cyclists are chasing one of our riders after our tactics played out as planned is a really good sign,” said Team Director Eric Wohlberg. “We looked at the wind conditions and the nature of the final 40 km of the race and thought we should have a go with Robin and Brandon in the break. Robin totally committed and Brandon almost pulled off the grand coup.
If Brandon had held off the chasers, he would have found himself wearing one of the sport’s most prestigious prizes.
“We came painstakingly close to the stage and yellow,” said Wohlberg. “Sure the loss is disappointing, but I think we showed what can be pulled off with a little old school fury and elbow grease.”
The finish of Hatta Dam and its 20% grade proved to be too much for McNulty as the world’s top teams hit the panic button when the stage and overall race win looked to be in the balance.
“With 1 km to go I thought I had won the entire race,” said Brandon McNulty. “With 500 meters to go I still thought I had won the race. Then with 200 meters to go, I hit the steep part of the climb and the legs locked up. I looked back, saw the field and held on until 50 meters to go. All of a sudden guys were flying by me.”
Early in the stage, teammate Robin Carpenter joined Brandon to form an elite breakaway group and displayed the very definition of teamwork.
“It was the team’s plan to get Robin and I the road and we were able to execute that really well,” said McNulty. “Initially we thought the steep finish would suit Robin better but with maybe 30 km left to race, Robin told me he was hurting. I was feeling great so he put in some massive pulls in the wind before leaving it to Connor Dunne (Aqua Blue Sport) and me.”
With such a stellar performance on the world stage and the attention that goes with it, McNulty displayed the composure of a seasoned veteran.
“Today showed me that I’m going pretty good right now and it gives me a bit of confidence going into the Tour of Oman and finishes that suit me,” said McNulty. “The team morale is super high and there’s just a lot of excitement for the upcoming races.”
Tomorrow’s final stage of Dubai Tour travels 132 km along the Persian Gulf and through both the old and new neighborhoods of Dubai before finishing at City Walk.
1 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 3:40:50
2 Magnus Cort (Den) Astana Pro Team
3 Timo Roosen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
4 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
5 Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
6 Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors
7 Tom Bohli (Swi) BMC Racing Team
8 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
… 20 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data 0:00:11
21 Brandon Mcnulty (USA) Rally Cycling
22 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin 0:00:18
By Tom Soladay, Rally Cycling