Abu Dhabi: Alexander Kristoff of UAE Team Emirates started from where he had left in Oman to clinch Stage 1 of the Abu Dhabi Tour on Wednesday.
Kristoff, who had won the final stage along the Muscat Corniche at the Tour of Oman on Sunday, sprinted to victory in the opening 189-kilometre stage between Madinat Zayed Edu Complex and ADNOC School in Al Fahim.
The European champion Kristoff, despite a strong head wind, manoeuvred well to brush aside the challenge and finished ahead of Andrea Guardini of Bardiani CSF and Mitchelton-Scott’s Caleb Ewan. Olympic champion Elia Viviani of Quick-Step Floors and Daniel Mclay of EF Education Firs-Drapac finished in the top five.
“I lost my lead-out man Roberto Ferrari but I found the wheel of Caleb Ewan. He’s a really good sprinter but I managed to come around him and keep the lead all the way till the line despite the head wind,” said a jubilant Kristoff, who was donning the all-white jersey with stars for being European champion.
“It is a great win for me and for the team. It is our home ground and now the pressure is released a bit as we have shown something in our home race and that’s a nice feeling. I’m really proud I managed to win. It is my second win in the season. I want to thank my teammates who helped us win this,” added Kristoff, who for his effort was rewarded with the Red Leader’s jersey for the General Classification and the Green jersey for Points.
The day started on a disappointing note with the news of Mark Cavendish of Dimension Data falling and pulling out even before the stage had got underway.
The escape group of the day had five riders that included Damiano Caruso of BMC, Toms Skujins of Trek Segafredo and Charles Planet of Novo Nordisk. Caruso was the last remaining attacker before being caught 13km from the finish.
Though LottoNL-Jumbo and Quick-Step Floors set the pace of the peloton in the last kilometres, their sprinters couldn’t match the guile of Kristoff.
The Norwegian was trailing with 200m to go but jumped from behind on Katusha-Alpecin lead sprinter Marcel Kittel’s wheels and then caught Ewan before powering his way to the finish.
The 148km Yas Island Stage 2 Thursday will start at Al Reem and pass through the Corniche heading south passing the Grand Mosque towards Shakhbout City and return through Yas Island and finish at Corniche.
1. Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) 189km in 4h48’24”
2. Andrea Guardini (Bardiani CSF) same time
3. Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton — Scott) same time
4. Elia Viviani (ITA) same time
5. Daniel McLay (GBR) same time
6. Niccolo Bonifazzio (ITA) same time
7. Michael Bresciani (ITA) same time
8. Danny van Poppel (NLD) same time
9. Rudy Barbier (FRA) same time
10. André Greipel (GER) same time
1 — Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates)
2 — Andrea Guardini (Bardiani CSF) +4s
3 — Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton — Scott) +6s
4. Nikolay Trusov (Rus) same time
5. Vincenzo Nibaleze (ITA) same time
6. Tom Skujins (LET) +7s
7. Damiano Caruso (ITA) +9s
8. Elia Viviani (ITA) +10s
9. Daniel McLay (GBR) same time
10. Niccolo Bonifazzio (ITA) same time