DUBAI (AFP) — Elia Viviani, riding for Team Sky, sprinted to victory in the second stage of the Dubai Tour on Thursday after a crash in the final kilometer appeared to affect his sprint rivals.
Viviani seized the overall race lead from stage 1 winner Marcel Kittel, who rides for Etixx – Quick-Step.
“Yesterday I opened my sprint too early and was left alone with no teammate with 1km to go,” the Italian said. “I’m less fast than sprinters like Kittel and [Mark] Cavendish, so to have a chance to beat them, I need everything to be perfect. We spoke about what went wrong last night and we rode perfectly as a team today. My leadout was excellent.”
After the 183km run from the Dubai International Marine Club to the man-made Palm Jumeirah island, Italian sprinters Sacha Modolo and Giacomo Nizzolo came in second and third.
Viviani has the same time as Kittel in the overall standings but has the No. 1 spot. Trek – Segafredo’s Nizzolo is 2 seconds back in third. Modolo of Lampre – Merida and Cavendish are 4 ticks back in fourth and fifth.
“Today’s stage was contested at a slower pace than yesterday’s and I was in an ideal position when the gap was closed on the breakaway riders,” Viviani said. “This finale suits me. I won here last year as well. It’s beautiful to begin the year with a victory in Dubai.”
The second of four stages featured an escape led by Polish rider Marcin Bialoblocki 5km into the race. He was joined by Silvan Dillier, Koen de Kort, and Francisco Mancebo.
A crash at the end of the underwater tunnel of Palm Jumeirah appeared to impact Kittel and Dimension Data’s Cavendish, the latter who was last year’s overall winner.
“When we came out of the tunnel, a guy from skydive Dubai, I don’t know his name, he turned right and, bam. I had to brake, and it was an uphill,” Cavendish said. “I went, was too far behind, Guardini had a leadout man so I thought I’d stay with Andrea Guardini and he’d go, but he never went. Shit happens.
“It’s just sketchy. Too many risks being taken. A lot of teams… too many risks.”
Kittel said his Etixx squad made a few mistakes coming into the finish.
“Like I said yesterday, there are days when we won’t be able to get the result that we want,” Kittel said. “I think that the team tried as hard as possible. The final was difficult, we made some mistakes, we have to be honest about that. But better to do those mistakes now than later in the season.”
Friday’s third stage embarks from the Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort to the Hatta Dam near the border with Oman, where racers will be challenged with two climbs and descents.
Caley Fretz contributed to this report.