Little changed for the 186-kilometer stage two at the Dubai Tour as Marcel Kittel (Quick Step-Floors) sprinted to his second straight win and John Degenkolb finished again in fourth place.
Except it was anything but a carbon copy of yesterday for Trek- Segafredo, who executed a much improved and nearly-perfect leadout in only their second time working with their new sprinter, something that bodes well for the season.
"Yesterday we did a really good job and then, in the end, it went wrong, and I think today it went almost perfect," said Koen de Kort, the trusted lieutenant and final leadout man of Degenkolb. "It was really wide roads, so it was always going to be a drag race going into the finish. I think the corner with 1600m or 1700m to go was the critical point. A lot of guys are already sprinting to go through it first, but I told the guys that the most important is to stay together.
"We got together straight after the corner; I still had Kiel [Reijnen] in front of me. First, we got on the wheel of Lotto(NL) Jumbo for a little bit, and then at around 800-900m to go I told Kiel to start. Kiel hesitated whether to go left or right around the guy, and therefore he held back a little bit, and I started a bit too early; I could have waited a little longer. So we could have gone into the sprint a little faster, but in the end, when you can start with three guys on the front, that is the leadout you want to have.
"There are always things you can do better, but we are very happy with how it went. I think it was an honest sprint – these kind of sprints are maybe not John's specialty, but next time if we do it a bit better, a little bit more speed, maybe there is still something more possible. But I am very happy with the work the guys did; I think it was a good job of all. Everyone is sticking to the plan and are motivated and focused. It's was very good to see."
It is amazing to have a whole team like this that is fully behind me, behind one goal.
Although another fourth for John Degenkolb was not a result to write home about, he was extremely content with the collected team effort in the frantic final kilometers, an encouraging sign for the bigger races ahead.
"It was a little bit too long for me," agreed Degenkolb. "Some of the fastest guys in the world are here, so it's hard to compete against them, you need to be perfect, but I think we can be happy. If we time it a just a little bit better… We are up there, and also the preparation from the whole team was just great. It is amazing to have a whole team like this that is fully behind me, behind one goal. It gives me a lot of motivation for now and the whole season. It's great to get this confidence and trust.
"Yesterday was a little bit of a harder stage and that suits me better. It was a very, very easy ride the whole day, and to perform on my best we have to hope for some harder stages. But in general, like I said yesterday, we can be very happy, and that still counts."