Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) won the opening stage of the Dubai Tour, winning a messy mass sprint from Magnus Cort Nielsen (Astana) and Elia Viviani (Quickstep).
The first stage of the Dubai Tour was a 167km out and back route, with a familiar finish on the Palm Jumeirah. The pan flat nature of the course ensured the peloton was easily able to control the 5-rider break that formed in the opening kilometers of the stage. With so many star sprinters also in the mix, there was no shortage of interest in chasing the break down and ensuring a mass sprint decided the stage.
The teams of Marcel Kittel and Elia Viviani did the lion-share of the work leading into the sprint, with our African Team keeping out the wind and looking after the interests of Mark Cavendish. Just before taking the underwater tunnel onto the Palm Jumeirah island at 7km to go, a big crash at the front of the pack disrupted most leadout trains, including our African Team’s.
Fortunately none of our riders went down but with just 5km to go, Mark Renshaw and Cavendish found themselves on the right side of the peloton with the remainder of the team on the left. As teams scrambled to get organised again, it was Quickstep who still had the reigns but the run-in became quite messy with sprinters searching for their leadouts.
Groenewegen’s leadout man got the jump on the Belgian outfit, kicking early with his sprinter in tow and gained a few meters on the rest. Cavendish was left searching for the right wheel, as were many of the pre stage favourites, when the sprint opened up. There was no catching the Dutchman though, as he had a clear 200m stretch of road in front of him to the line. Cavendish rolled home just outside of the top 10.
Mark Cavendish – Rider
I didn’t even sprint really. I got a good workload in during the final, the lead up to the sprint, but I wasn’t able to sprint at all. I thought I was still in with a shout with 400m to go but then guys were just going all different directions. I was feeling alright though, Renshaw was really good, Bernie was good and Julien was up there too.