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Dubai Tour 2015: stage four – photo gallery

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Photographs: Joel Hewitt

Mark Cavendish’s earliest days with his Belgian sprint train, when it derailed as often as it arrived on time, now seem a long time ago.
The latest model of the Quick-Step Express, now with added Etixx, delivered the Manxman to a stage win and overall victory on the final stage of the Dubai Tour with minimum fuss.
Oh, that Railtrack and the train operating companies might find the harmony of Cavendish, Renshaw, Sabatini et al. That the Etixx Express is powered by Tony Martin’s matchless diesel is worth remembering, too.
Giant-Alpecin, by contrast, made first class ticket holder John Degenkolb miss his appointment with destiny. The blue jersey should have enjoyed a smooth ride to a final destination clearly labeled on his smartphone diary, “Podium”.
Having done the hard work himself the previous day, even collapsing at his destination in the style of the most careworn commuter forced to traverse barren lands by his own efforts [East Croydon? – Ed], Big John was forced to queue behind Viviani, Lobato, Swift et al, while his privileged status melted away.
Spare a thought too for the hapless Andrea Guardini, perennially arriving on the platform as the barriers close. The runaway Astana train gallops onwards over  increasingly rickety tracks, while the station master considers its relegation to the sidings on grounds of health and safety.
The sprint trains in Qatar will now come under scrutiny. Engine drivers Bouhanni and Blythe, Ciolek and Demare, Kristoff and Kittel will all hope to arrive first at Doha Central. The wind-whipped desert will offer no easy crossing, however, and their crews will need to be at their sharpest if the trains are to avoid derailment.

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