Dubai: Magnus Cort Nielsen hailed his “great moment” after being the surprising challenger to eventual champion Elia Viviani before finishing second overall in the 2018 Dubai Tour.
Now in his sixth year as a pro cyclist, the Astana Pro Team rider finished second on the opening day and then on the penultimate stage in Hatta to trail Olympic champion Viviani by two seconds going into Saturday’s final stage.
The 25-year-old Dane, who still has a year left on his contract with the team from Kazakhstan, eventually finished Stage Five in eighth place and remain content with the runner-up spot when the race concluded at a busy Dubai City Walk on Saturday.
“I am not surprised with what I have achieved here,” Cort Nielsen told Gulf News.
I have been progressing since the past three years and I feel that this is my year to show what I am made of. With so many sprinters in the field we never came with any expectations for our team. But if we have proved something to ourselves and to the rest of the teams it is that we are quick enough to match even the best sprinters in the world,” the 25-year-old rider from Denmark added.
Close calls for a couple of stage wins on the first day and on Friday gave Team Astana the belief. “After those two results we just decided that we go all out and see how far we get,” he related.
With a perfect warm-up in the Gulf region, Nielsen will be happy to proceed to Europe for a swing at some of the big ones. “It is the Classics that we will be after. They are a different thing altogether. But that said, I think I will be in good shape and perhaps this is my year to do even better. I will be up there,” Cort Nielsen said.
“By the end of 201,8 a couple of hot wins would satisfy me. I am close that and my form has shown over this week. I hope to get protection from the team and some leader roles will also enhance my outlook,” he added.