Mark Cavendish: Manx rider relinquishes Dubai Tour lead

Mark Cavendish
Mark Cavendish (centre) is riding for the Etixx-Quickstep team in Dubai

Mark Cavendish's hopes of winning the Dubai Tour are still alive despite losing the lead to John Degenkolb in Friday's penultimate stage.

The Manx rider is second overall, four seconds behind Degenkolb, who earned a 10-second bonus for winning the uphill sprint to the finish on stage three.

Cavendish, 29, winner of stage one, finished 10 seconds back in 17th.

Saturday's final stage is expected to end in a bunch sprint which will suit Cavendish and his fellow sprinters.

Degenkolb was the surprise winner of a stage which looked more likely to favour a puncheur - a rider who excels on short, sharp climbs - with the ascent to the finish featuring gradients of 17%.

The Giant-Alpecin rider is better suited to slightly flatter finishes but he raced clear with 300m remaining.

Spain's Alejandro Valverde, who had been among the pre-race favourites, came close to catching the wilting Degenkolb in the final 100m but the German held on to win by two seconds.