Alexander Kristoff (UAE – Team Emirates) won the opening stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour, sprinting to the stage win ahead of Andrea Gaurdini (Bardiani -CSF) and Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott).
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka was dealt a massive blow even before racing truly got underway on stage 1 of the Abu Dhabi Tour. Mark Cavendish was involved in a crash in the neutral zone. It seemed the race director’s car slowed suddenly as it led the peloton out of Madinat Zayed, the reaction in the peloton saw 4 riders, including our Manxman, go down.
Unfortunately Cavendish had to abandon the Abu Dhabi Tour as a result of the crash. “Mark sustained a concussion and a whiplash injury after his crash today. Due to the concussion, we were not willing to risk rider safety and the call was made for Mark to stop the race. A serious neck injury has been excluded in hospital. He currently has some concussive symptoms and neck pain, but is otherwise stable. We will monitor Mark’s condition closely going forward.” explains Team Doctor, Dr Adrian Rotunno.
The stage continued without our star rider as 5 riders made the break of the day. The sprint teams were easily able to control the escape, ensuring the 190km stage ended in a mass sprint. Mekseb Debesay and Mark Renshaw tried to implement a plan B of sorts for our African Team, mixing it up in the sprint finale. It was the main sprint teams who would come out on top though, with the European champion taking the win.
Without Cavendish, our African Team’s main focus for the Abu Dhabi Tour will now be down to securing a high overall GC result. The stage 4 time trial and stage 5 summit finish being the key stages for the overall contenders this week.