Kittel Wins Stage 2 of Dubai Tour
After being delivered in a good position by his leadout teammates in the final kilometers, Kittel kept a cool head as he fought his way through the pack of competing sprint aces, made it to the front and then accelerated away to cross the finish line first, thereby taking his second victory of 2014.
The 124 kilometer stage 2 from Dubai to Palm Jumeirah progressed as expected by commentators and insiders with a small breakaway forming and taking most of the air-time out front before the sprinter teams started reeling them back in as the riders approached the second half of the stage.
The peloton regrouped in the final ten kilometers despite the efforts of strong side winds hoping to split the Dubai Tour peloton. Along with BMC Racing Team which was focusing on preserving the overall race lead for Phinney, Team Giant-Shimano hit the front in a technical finale to keep the pace high and keep Kittel out of danger.
Despite getting isolated from teammates in the final meters, Kittel didn't panic and kept his composure to take the first road stage in the first edition of the Dubai Tour.
"The team did a great job today and we can all be proud of how we worked together and pulled it off,” Kittel told Roadcycling.com after crossing the finish line.
“The stage never really split up, but there was some wind and also sand storms to deal with, which made things interesting. At the end the guys dropped me off in a good position, but I got swamped a bit in the final kilometer so I had to find my own way through to the front. The legs were good though and it’s great to get the win out here in Dubai.”
Overall race leader Phinney earned a one-second time bonus for finishing behind Kittel and runner-up Sagan of the Cannondale Pro Cycling Team.
Phinney explained his plan today was to stay safe and let Team BMC Racing control the pace.
"The team rode really, really well as a unit," Phinney said. "Rick Zabel and Sebastian Lander rode the whole day on the front and controlled everything. Yannick Eijssen, Steve Cummings and Klaas Lodewyck looked after me in the final."
According to Phinney he was not aiming for a second straight stage win, but saw an opportunity 500 meters before the finish and decided to make a move.
"Some guys were pulling off and with a tail crosswind like that you can gain a lot of speed from behind. I just started to pass everybody and did my own sprint. I started really early, maybe 300 meters out, but unfortunately started to die a bit with 75 meters to go," Phinney explained.
Tomorrow's flat 162 kilometer stage 3 from Dubai to Hatta will provide the sprinters with an additional chance to shine on the roads of Dubai.
"The team are looking strong and they showed he is confident out there today. Looking ahead to tomorrow, we can take it like today as we don't have a jersey to defend. The guys have already ridden the finish so we will make a plan for that tonight and hopefully we can get Marcel up there again," Team Giant-Shimano sports director Aike Visbeek explained to Roadcycling.com.