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Kittel takes stage, overall in Dubai

DUBAI (VN) – Germany’s Marcel Kittel won the Tour of Dubai on Saturday after outsprinting his cheif rivals beneath the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa.

Kittel won the 132-km stage ahead of Ella Viviani and Mark Cavendish. The win vaulted Kittel ahead of Italy’s Giacomo Nizzolo in the overall.

“I’m really, really happy. I was dreaming about this moment,” Kittel said. “My team was fantastic all day and we did an incredible job to beat all the other teams, staying calm and attacking at the right moment.”

Nizzolo had seized the overall leader’s blue jersey on Friday but had to settle for sixth place in Saturday’s race after losing pace in the lead up tot he finish. Nizzolo took second place in the overall standings, four seconds behind Kittel.

Kittel said the four-day Dubai tour gave his Etixx-QuickStep team a chance to perfect its sprinting tactics. Throughout the race, he said, the team worked on its lead-out strategy against Sky, Dimension Data and the other sprint teams.

“I think that we are able to adapt to situations,” Kittel said. “We learned from a bad day like it was on the second day, and that makes me very happy and confident.”

The German won the Dubai Tour’s opening stage, but was beaten by Viviani (Sky) on the second stage after a crash pushed him back into the bunch. Kittel then survived the climb to Hatta Dam on the third stage to remain in contention, just six seconds in arrears on GC.

Kittel’s most impressive performance, however, came on Saturday, when he soundly defeated his sprinting rivals, including 2015 Dubai Tour champion Mark Cavendish.

Cavendish (Dimension Data) said his team came into the final stage hoping to surprise Kittel in the final turn before the finish.

“The plan was to get Kittel’s wheel in the last kilometer, and then lay off,” Cavendish said. “We knew the last corner was tight, so if we carry more speed and get a run-up, I would have been alright.”

Cavendish said the plan fell apart when he came into the corner too fast and too tight, and was forced to scrub off speed before accelerating toward the line. Cavendish finished third.

“I just cooked myself on the acceleration out of the corner,” he said. “There’s not much I could do.”