Simone Consonni of Cofidis impressively out sprinted Dylan Groenewegen (Jayco AIUla) to land victory in the final stage five of the Saudi Tour 2023.
Jayco AIUla mistimed their leadout for the Dutchman, meaning Groenewegen was forced to go a long way out with the finish line in sight.
In the end, the Dutchman would tire meaning that Consonni and Pascal Ackermann of UAE Team Emirates were able to get on terms before passing the Jayco AIUla man.
Eventually, the Italian fast man would have the edge to take a superb stage win for Cofidis.
Meanwhile, Ruben Guerreiro (Movistar) crossed the finish safely with his Movistar teammates to wrap up overall victory.
HOW IT HAPPENED
After Ruben Guerreiro grabbed the overall lead yesterday, it was widely anticipated that the final 143 kilometre stage five between AIUla Old Town and Maraya would be relatively incident free, with the Portuguese rider just needing to tackle a tricky looking gravel section before wrapping up the title.
Due to the relatively flat finale, the stage was expected to end in a bunch sprint.
Once the racing was under way, a breakaway involving Marcus Sander Hansen of Uno-X wearing the blue jersey as the most active rider established itself. Sander-Hansen was joined by two men from Italian outfit Corratec, Txomin Juraisti of Euskaltel-Euskadi, Kamil Malecki of Q36.5 and Ceriel Desal of Bingoal WB.
With 34 kilometres left to race, the breakaway had a lead of just one minute and the riders were fast approaching an eight kilometre gravel section. Meanwhile panic was starting to rip through the main field as the peloton approached the dirt road, with teams looking to protect their star men.
Movistar assembled around Guerreiro, with Mathias Norsgaard playing a leading role to protect their man at the top of the GC.
27 kilometres to go, and the breakaway were off the gravel section with the peloton hot in pursuit. All riders escaped relatively incident free from the particular section although the breakaways lead had been slashed to under 40 seconds.
With an eye to the finish, Mark Donovan of Q36.5 launched an attack looking to bridge across to the tiring leaders. Jayco AIUla assembled on the front of the peloton looking to up the tempo and potentially set up Dylan Groenewegen for another win.
As the breakaway reached the intermediate sprint point, the charge for the remaining points available was uncontested with Sander-Hansen snapping up what was left.
13 kilometres left to race, and the leaders were beginning to look over their shoulders. Desal and Sander Hansen were looking to push on, although with the peloton just 32 seconds behind, the catch seemed inevitable. Movistar were leading the charge in the peloton looking to ensure Guerreiro was protected until the end in what was shaping up to be a frantic sprint finish.
3.8 kilometres to go and the peloton were onto the leaders thanks to sterling work from Uno-X. At one kilometre left, once the peloton had the leaders back in their midst, Jayco AIUla forced Uno-X out of the way looking to begin their leadout for Groenewegen.
Once Jayco AIUla began to accelerate, other riders including Astana’s Cees Bol and Cofidis’ Italian fast man Simone Consonni were onto them. Despite a powerful turn of speed from Luca Mezgec, Groenewegen mistimed his effort and kicked for the line too early on the uphill drag.
Bol and Consonni were straight onto the tiring Dutchman, with the Italian managing to push on and power away from his rivals to take a stunning win for Cofidis to wrap up the 2023 edition of the Saudi Tour.
SAUDI TOUR 2023: STAGE FIVE RESULTS
1. Simone Consonni (ITA) Cofidis, in 03-10-13
2. Matteo Malucelli (ITA) Bingoal WB,
3. Pascal Ackermann (GER) UAE Team Emirates,
4. Dylan Groenewegen (NED) Jayco AIUla,
5. Max Kanter (GER) Movistar,
6. Cees Bol (NED) Astana,
7. Juan Jose Lobato (SPA) Euskaltel-Euskadi,
8. Marco Tizza (ITA) Bingoal WB,
9. Szymon Sajnok (POL) Q36.5
10. Jonathan Milan (ITA) Bahrain Victorious, all at same time
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE FIVE
1. Ruben Guerreiro (POR) Movistar, in 20-20-04
2. Davide Formolo (ITA) UAE Team Emirates, at 8s
3. Santiago Buitrago (COL) Bahrain Victorious, at 9s
4. Felix Grossschartner (AUS) UAE Team Emirates, at 18s
5. Jonathan Milan (ITA) Bahrain Victorious, at 24s
6. Cees Bol (NED) Astana Qazaqstan, at 32s
7. Simone Consonni (ITA) Cofidis, at 33s
8. William Barta (USA) Movistar, at 37s
9. Xabier Azparren Irurzun (SPA) Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 38s
10. Marco Tizza (ITA) Bingoal WB, at 43s