Kittel Wins Stage 1 at Dubai Tour
Germany's Marcel Kittel earlier today sprinted to victory in stage 1 of the 2017 Dubai Tour, thereby taking the race lead for his QuickStep Floors team.
The 181 kilometer stage, which finished in sunny conditions on the Palm Jumeirah peninsula, concluded in a bunch sprint wildly contested by leading sprinters from various WorldTour teams.
Kittel crossed the finish line in 04:06:33 immediately followed by Dylan Groenewegen of Team Lotto NL-Jumbo and former world champion Mark Cavendish of Team Dimension Data - Qhubeka. Kittel's fellow countryman John Degenkolb was fourth to complete the stage in the same time as the winner.
After only a few kilometers of racing, five hopefuls set out on a quest to build a strong lead and hope for a miracle. Nicola Boem (Bardiani-CSF), Matteo Bono (UAE Abu Dhabi), Silvan Dillier (BMC Racing Team), Daniel Pearson (Aqua Blue Sport) and Tom Stewart (ONE Pro Cycling) together managed to build a solid four-minute lead on the peloton featuring the favorites.
Contesting this year's edition of the race with defending race champion Kittel, the QuickStep Floors team eventually assumed control at the front of the peloton with Julien Vermote and Bob Jungels. The breakaway hopefuls were reeled in with ten kilometers to go, after which the QuickStep team backed off a bit, only to recoup shortly thereafter for the sprint lead out effort.
Cavendish punctured with four kilometers to go, which was obviously a hard blow for the Manx missile.
Two kilometers before the finish, QuickStep launched its sprint train following the exit of the final roundabout. Matteo Trentin and Fabio Sabatini proved to be the duo who would accelerate and set up Kittel for his final explosive effort, which would eventually bring him the stage win.
"When I joined this team, the Dubai Tour was like the world championship for me. I wanted to prove myself to the team. Now I know everyone in the team, I knew them before, but as teammates we’ve had a good time and hard times together," stage winner Kittel explained to Roadcycling.com after being celebrated on the podium.
"Having had a complete season (with the team) last year means it’s a different start this year. In the first race of the year, even with the world’s biggest team, you’re not sure to win, but we’ve done a great job."
"Mark Cavendish had bad luck today (flat tire 4 km before the finish line) but we’ll sprint against each other again many times this year. The General Classification is still a goal for me, now even more after winning today's stage, but we’ll see how it goes on the Hatta Dam. The overall can be lost by a second and the lead can’t be secured before the last stage," Kittel concluded.
Following the first stage, Kittel leads the Dubai Tour by a mere three seconds, closely tailed by Nicola Boem (Bardiani CSF) and Dylan Groenewegen.
Tomorrow's flat stage 2 will conclude in the Emirate's capital and is expected to culminate in a bunch sprint across the finish line. Look for Cavendish and Degenkolb to try their luck in the final kilometer.
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