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After two wins for his teammate Chtioui, Palini continued the Skydive Dubai dominance at the Tropicale Amissa Bongo by beating Gene and Debesay in a bunch sprint to win stage 4; Chtioui defended his lead

ANDREA PALINI

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RAFAA CHTIOUI

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YOHANN GENE

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19.02.2015 @ 17:58 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After two wins for Rafaa Chtioui, Andrea Palini continued the Skydive Dubai dominance at the Tropicale Amissa Bongo when he won today’s fourth stage of the race. The Italian emerged as the fastest in the bunch sprint by beating Youhann (Gene) and Mekseb Debesay (Bike Aid) while Chtioui defended his overall lead.

 

After two years at Lampre-Merida, Andrea Palini saw his professional career come to an end at the end of the 2014 season. However, the fast Italian has been adamant that he wants to return to the highest level and he has chosen the Skydive Dubai team as the place to get his revenge.

 

Being the main sprinter on the team, Palini has got his time with the Arabic team off to a perfect start as he won two stages in the Tour of Egypt and took three top 10 results against WorldTour competition at the Dubai Tour. Today he took another big win against the professionals when he won stage 4 of the Tropicale Amissa Bongo.

 

After the hilly stages, the peloton was back in flat terrain for the 133km stage from Ndjole to Lambarene and all was set for a big bunch sprint. However, the riders faced a small climb in the finale before the descended slightly for the final 1500m to the line.

 

As usual, the riders took the start in perfect weather conditions and they got it off to a fast beginning with lots of attacks. Finally a break managed to get clear and at the 40km mark, Benoit Jarrier (Bretagne), Bryan Nauleau (Europcar) and Essaid Abelouache (Morocco) were 2 minutes ahead.

 

The peloton was intent on a bunch sprint and so the escapees didn’t get a bigger advantage. Skydive Dubai combined forces with Wanty-Groupe Gobert and Bretagne to gradually reduce the gap and at the 55km mark, it was only 1.05.

 

For a little while, the gap hovered between 1.00 and 1.30 before the peloton accelerated and with 25km to go, the escapees were back in the fold. This opened the door for a new attack when Mohamed Amine Er Rafai (Morocco) got clear and he did a great work to build a 15-second advantage with 20km to go.

 

The Moroccan proved to be hard to catch and with 13km to go, he had extended his lead to 50 seconds. Now he was losing ground though and as he passed the 10km to go banner, his advantage was only 40 seconds.

 

The Bretagne team had now taken complete control and with 3km to go, it was all over for Er Rafai. Instead, it came down to a bunch sprint and here Palini proved his speed by beating Yohann Gene and Mekseb Debesay.

 

Overall leader Rafaa Chtioui (Skydive Dubai) finished safely in the bunch and so goes into tomorrow’s two half-stages with an advantage of 2.24 over Giovanni Bernaudeau (Europcar). He first faces a flat 145km sprint stage in the morning before it is time for the crucial 8.2km team time trial in the evening.

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