Elia Viviani (Quickstep-Floors) won the 2nd stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour, sprinting to the win ahead of Danny van Poppel (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Pascal Ackerman (Bora-Hansgrohe). Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka had Mark Renshaw in the mix, taking 10th place on the line.
The 2nd stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour saw riders take on a 150km stage, from Yas Island to the Khalifa Port and back again. Our African Team started the stage on the front foot with Jaco Venter making the break of the day. Venter was joined by 4 other riders and they rode to a 4-minute lead.
The flat course looked perfect for a bunch sprint but there was always some talk about wind affecting the race as it made a turn back along the coastline to Yas Island. These thoughts proved to be true as Katusha and Movistar drove the pace in the gutter, catching the break and splitting the race into 4 groups with only 50km to go. Renshaw made the front group for our African Team, the rest of our riders split between the other smaller groups.
Eventually the front group ran out of firepower to hold off the 2nd group, which allowed our Mekseb Debesay to come back into contention. With most of the main sprinters and GC contenders now at the head of the race, the pace eased slightly as the sprint finish was inevitable. Venter used this lull in pace to also rejoin the front of the race but unfortunately the group of Steve Cummings, Scott Davies and Lachlan Morton would not make it back.
Viviani’s fine sprinting form continued as he took his 4th stage win from a sprint this year. Debesay did a great job to position Renshaw for the sprint finish, allowing our Australian to get up there for 10th place on the stage.
Mark Renshaw – Rider
It was a nice and fast stage today. After we made the U-turn to head back along the coast the wind was blowing strongly and some teams took advantage and put the race in the gutter. I was at the front when it split and made the first group. Unfortunately I was alone but I rolled through to keep my position, hoping the rest of our guys would still make it back. Mekseb came across in the final 20km and together we did what we could to get something out of the stage, I ended up being 10th after not timing my sprint well and starting too far back. I’m looking forward to another chance tomorrow. It’s a shame that our GC hope for the tour Steve missed the split, now we must try hard to win a stage before the end of the week.