Mark Cavendish would net his first podium placing for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka at the opening Dubai Tour stage today, sprinting to 2nd place just behind Marcel Kittel (Etixx-Quickstep). Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) was 3rd.
Initially 4 riders got away early in the stage before 2 more joined them up front to form a lead group of 6 riders. Martin Mortensen (One Pro), Marc Soler (Movistar), Soufiane Haddi (Skydive), Charles Planet (Novo Nordisk), Jesus Alberto Rubio (Al Nasr) and Loic Vliegen (BMC) were the riders putting pressure on the peloton.
The 6 leaders had a 5-minute lead at one stage and so our Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka riders, with help from Etixx-Quickstep took up the chase from the peloton. Our African quartet of Songezo Jim, Nic Dougall, Natnael Berhane & Daniel Teklehaimanot did some stellar work early on, bringing the gap down to a manageable 2’30” with 30km to go.
Our African Team continued to take command of the chase while Cav, Mark Renshaw and Bernie Eisel would get into position for the sprint. With 10km to go the break was caught, thanks to a good job by our boys. For the finale, after a hard chase, it was just Nic that remained upfront with our experienced sprint trio. Etixx came into the final 3km with a numbers advantage and Cav jumped onto the wheel of Andrea Guardini (Astana). As the sprint opened up, Cav came from 5th wheel to pass the 3 riders ahead of him but could just not haul in Kittel before the line.
Mark Cavendish – Rider
I’m obviously disappointed not to win today, but I’ve taken a lot of positives from the race. The Team Dimension Data boys took control and rode brilliant all day to set up a sprint finish. When I saw Etixx had a lot of guys in the final, I wanted Kittel’s wheel, but so did the other sprinters. In the end I started from too far behind Marcel in the sprint but to close 1.5 bike lengths on him in the final, I’m pretty happy with my condition and with the work the boys did for me today. I’m sorry I couldn’t pay them back with the win, but we’ll keep trying.