The 2nd edition of the Abu Dhabi Tour got underway today and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) was the rider to take the spoils on stage 1. The Italian Champion sprinted to the victory ahead of John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) with our African Team’s Mark Cavendish placing 3rd.
The opening 147km stage comprised of an out and back route in Madinat Zayed and the flat nature of the course through the desert meant the sprinters would surely decide the stage. Four early attackers at least kept the peloton honest and ensured the stage was run at a high speed.
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka spent the day controlling the peloton with Jay Thomson and Mekseb Debesay tapping out the rhythm for the day. Coming into the finish, Youcef Reguigui then added some fresh fire power to the chase with 15km to go which ensured the break was caught at the 7km to go marker. It was then up to Bernie Eisel and Mark Renshaw to deliver Mark Cavendish to the line.
Eisel did a strong ride to keep Renshaw and Cavendish at the head of affairs from 5km to 2km to go, as the jostling for position took place behind our African Team. When Eisel pulled off Renshaw and Cavendish had to surf from train to train before Renshaw could make a move up the right. Nizzolo took the wheel of our Australian as Cavendish followed the Italian. Once Nizzolo jumped with 200m to go the line came quickly and our Manxman was not able to come around to challenge for the top spot, instead having to settle for 3rd place on the stage.
Rolf Aldag – Sport Director
Obviously, our goal was to create a sprint finish for Mark Cavendish. We were fully committed to that and once the breakaway was gone we started riding with Mekseb and Jay, and they did a good job. They controlled things so that the break didn’t get too far ahead. In the final it was a bit tricky with a headwind from 5km to 1.2km to go, and then we missed out on placing Mark in a position from where he was able to win. We will talk to all the guys and analyse the finish later today but unfortunately after the hard work of the team, we just could not pull it off today in the sprint.