Race Recap

Race Recap: Saudi Tour – Action in the desert

Saudi Tour

Team DSM’s 2022 racing calendar got underway this week as our Men’s program headed out to the middle east for action at the Saudi Tour. Taking on an intriguing five days of racing, a mixed bag of a parcours awaited the peloton with three stages for the sprinters, one for the puncheurs and one suited more for the climbers. However, as is tradition for races in this area of the world, the bunch had one eye on the weather forecast and the potential for echelons – but the crosswind chaos would come later in the week.

Getting up to racing speed, the team’s main focus for the week was to get back into the swing of things and get accustomed to each other again after the winter break, while it was also an opportunity for new Aussie rider, Sam Welsford, to don the team’s distinctive two-striped jersey for the first time at a race. With Vuelta stage podium finisher Alberto Dainese in the ranks, the team also had a focus on the sprints, with Dainese as the team’s designated finisher for those fast finales.

Stage 1: Winter Park to Winter Park (198 kilometres)

It was a fast opening day of racing, with the added excitement of a gravel section to contend with in the finale. Working well together as a unit, the team looked to protect finisher Dainese ahead of the expected gallop to the line, but in the hectic run-in, he was unfortunately blocked and couldn’t compete for the sprint fully. Nonetheless, the team took motivation from their group effort and were ready to show their Team DSM jersey at the front in the days to come.

Speaking after the stage Dainese said: “The guys put in a great effort. They brought me into a perfect position at a crucial point. Unfortunately, we got boxed in just before the last corner where I lost too much speed compared to the other competitors, but the lead-out from today gives us a lot of motivation to reward those efforts in the coming stages here.” 


Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 EWAN Caleb Lotto Soudal 4:41:52 14
2 LAAS Martin BORA - hansgrohe ,, 5
3 GAVIRIA Fernando UAE Team Emirates ,, 3
13 DAINESE Alberto Team DSM ,, -
41 MÄRKL Niklas Team DSM ,, -
57 DENZ Nico Team DSM ,, -
58 NABERMAN Tim Team DSM ,, -
77 VAN UDEN Casper Team DSM 1:22 -
80 NIEUWENHUIS Joris Team DSM ,, -
82 WELSFORD Sam Team DSM ,, -

Stage 2: Taibah University to Abu Rakah (163 kilometres)

It was a controlled second day of racing at the Saudi Tour, with a short, but explosive finale to end the day. Staying safe throughout the stage, the team worked well together to deliver Joris Nieuwenhuis to the foot of the final hill. Once the road kicked up, the race exploded with Nieuwenhuis bringing the team home just behind the leading elite group.

“That was a nasty, hard and punchy final,” Nieuwenhuis concluded. “The peloton was controlled the whole day and after we caught the break, the guys worked hard to drop us off in a good position at the bottom of the climb. From the bottom of that climb to the finish, we knew that it would be the legs that decided the stage. In the end with two climbers sprinting for the win, it shows that the climb was actually quite difficult. We’ll regroup for tomorrow now, where we have another chance to go for it in the sprint.”


Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 BUITRAGO Santiago Bahrain - Victorious 3:43:51 14
2 BAGIOLI Andrea Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team 0:01 5
3 CHARMIG Anthon Uno-X Pro Cycling Team 0:07 3
20 NIEUWENHUIS Joris Team DSM 0:22 -
32 VAN UDEN Casper Team DSM 0:54 -
37 DAINESE Alberto Team DSM 0:59 -
43 MÄRKL Niklas Team DSM 1:33 -
51 WELSFORD Sam Team DSM ,, -
79 DENZ Nico Team DSM 3:49 -
80 NABERMAN Tim Team DSM ,, -

Stage 3: Tayma Hadaj Well to AlUla Old Town (181 kilometres)

After crosswind chaos tore apart the peloton on stage three of the Saudi Tour, the race mostly regrouped as they turned into a headwind in the final third of the route. Finding each other well, the guys delivered fast-man and finisher Dainese coming into the last roundabout, where he latched on to other sprinters around him. Pushing hard and closing a gap in the final few hundred metres, Dainese got up well to take fifth place – just a bike length or so behind the winner in a hotly contested finish.

Dainese added: “It was a hard day with the wind. The final was mostly headwind so the main groups came back together. The guys set me up well for the last roundabout, then I tried my best to find a good wheel before the sprint. I had to close a gap in the last few hundred meters and came close on the line. We’ll try again in the sprint on Saturday.”


Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 GROENEWEGEN Dylan Team BikeExchange - Jayco 5:11:22 14
2 MCLAY Daniel Team Arkéa Samsic ,, 5
3 EWAN Caleb Lotto Soudal ,, 3
5 DAINESE Alberto Team DSM ,, -
23 DENZ Nico Team DSM ,, -
24 NIEUWENHUIS Joris Team DSM ,, -
38 VAN UDEN Casper Team DSM ,, -
40 NABERMAN Tim Team DSM ,, -
66 MÄRKL Niklas Team DSM 2:22 -
71 WELSFORD Sam Team DSM ,, -

Stage 4: Winter Park to Skyviews of Harrat Uwayrid (150 kilometres)

Stage four of the Saudi Tour was another day packed with crosswind chaos. In the beginning of the race two riders went clear, but they were quickly reeled in again when the peloton split up in the crosswinds. Multiple echelons formed with Welsford and Nico Denz present in the first group for the team. On the gruellingly steep final climb, the guys gave it their all, as the front group exploded and the climbers ultimately battled it our for the stage win.

Speaking after the finish Welsford expressed: ‘Today was another hard day with potential crosswind action. The wind wasn’t as strong as yesterday but just over half way into the race we launched it into the winds and caused a lot of damage to the peloton. We were represented in the front group with Nico and I but in the end the final climb was all about the climbers. We can take a lot of positives from today with our teamwork and commitment to each other, and tomorrow we’ll go all in for the sprint in the final stage!”


Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 VAN GILS Maxim Lotto Soudal 3:32:39 14
2 MEZGEC Luka Team BikeExchange - Jayco 0:40 5
3 DECLERCQ Tim Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team ,, 3
31 DAINESE Alberto Team DSM 4:12 -
32 VAN UDEN Casper Team DSM 6:00 -
35 WELSFORD Sam Team DSM 6:03 -
61 MÄRKL Niklas Team DSM 12:21 -
72 NABERMAN Tim Team DSM 13:47 -
74 NIEUWENHUIS Joris Team DSM ,, -
84 DENZ Nico Team DSM 15:30 -

Stage 5: AlUla Old Town to AlUla Old Town (138 kilometres)

The final day of racing at the Saudi Tour saw more sprint action, with the same uphill kick to the line that was on stage three. Despite a strong break going clear, the bunch was always in control and the inevitable sprint couldn’t be avoided. The guys looked after each other and finisher Dainese well, moving forward as a group in the closing kilometres. However, it was hectic and messy in the peloton, and Dainese wasn’t able to get a full run at the line.

Dainese said: “It was quite an easy stage with not much wind. On the local laps we sit back and waited, and the guys looked after me well. Towards the last roundabout at one and a half kilometres to go we hit the front a bit too early and on the last straight I got boxed in from both sides. We have some things we can take from here for the future and it is a good learning week for us.”


Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 GROENEWEGEN Dylan Team BikeExchange - Jayco 2:56:10 14
2 MCLAY Daniel Team Arkéa Samsic ,, 5
3 BALLERINI Davide Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team ,, 3
10 DAINESE Alberto Team DSM ,, -
13 WELSFORD Sam Team DSM ,, -
19 VAN UDEN Casper Team DSM ,, -
48 NABERMAN Tim Team DSM 0:15 -
66 NIEUWENHUIS Joris Team DSM 0:51 -
77 DENZ Nico Team DSM 1:16 -
1006 MÄRKL Niklas Team DSM -02:56:10 -

Reflecting on the week as a whole:

Team DSM coach Roy Curvers said: “Even though we hoped to bring back more from the desert, we had a week where we learned a lot, and gained a lot of confidence within the group. It also made it more clear to us where we have to work on in the coming weeks and we’re taking away a lot of good improvement points, so I think we can say that this week will definitely contribute to our future results in a good way.”

Nieuwenhuis continued: “This week was a good and tough race to have in the legs already at the start of the season. As we were here with a young squad we focused mainly on getting the basics in order and try to really communicate well when deep in the final. Some days went super well for us and some days there was room for improvement, but that’s bike racing. I think we all go home with some good points to think about when going into the next races, where it should be about making that next step and really connecting to each other while pushing the gas.”