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Kittel edges Cavendish in Dubai Tour opener

DUBAI (AFP) — German sprinter Marcel Kittel of Etixx – Quick-Step won the first stage of the Dubai Tour on Wednesday when he edged out last year’s winner, Dimension Data’s Mark Cavendish, in a bunch sprint.

After the 173-kilometer run from the Dubai Marine Club to Fujairah, Trek – Segafredo’s Giacomo Nizzolo came in third with the top three picking up time bonuses of 10, six and four seconds, giving the three the lead in the overall standings.

“We were the strongest in the lead-out,” the giant German explained after the race. “And the timing was perfect. We made a plan and we executed it,” said Kittel, who won four stages on the 2014 Tour de France before a virus ruined his fitness in 2015.

Kittel has since left the Giant-Alpecin team and taken up with Belgian outfit Etixx – Quick-Step, which has a history of banking on sprinters.

“I restart at zero. I feel very good about today’s outcome. We’ll stay focused and hopefully there’s more to come for us at the Dubai Tour,” he said.

This first of four stages featured a long escape led by Loic Vliegen of BMC Racing and Martin Mortensen of Stolting Service Group. The duo was caught with 10km left.

Thursday’s second stage also embarks from the Marine Club for a 183km ride out around the outskirts of the city, back through the port and out onto the finish line at Palm Jumeirah.