Crash-altered finale in Dubai Tour
An incident which occurred inside the final kilometer prevented Marcel Kittel from fighting for the win.
Stage 2 of the Dubai Tour (Dubai – Palm Jumeirah, 183 km) began with Marcel Kittel in the blue jersey of the overall leader, following his impressive victory on Wednesday's stage. Right from the gun, four riders escaped – Marcin Bialoblocki (One Pro Cycling), Silvan Dillier (BMC), Koen De Kort (Giant-Alpecin) and Francisco Mancebo (Skydive Dubai) – and managed to build a 3-minute gap that allowed them to fight for the bonus seconds at all three intermediate sprints. Then, inside the last 50 kilometers, Etixx – Quick-Step came to the front and pulled hard, chewing into the break's advantage and reeling in the four with around 12 kilometers left.
As the sprinters' teams prepared for a fast finish, a crash occurred with 1000 meters to go, near the exit of the underwater tunnel, and among the ones who got stuck behind was also Marcel Kittel. With the sprint disrupted and a reduced peloton, there weren't any proper lead-out trains going into the last 500 meters. In the run-in, Elia Viviani (Sky) proved to be the strongest and crossed the line first, edging out his countrymen Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek Factory-Segafredo). With Kittel unable to contest the sprint, Viviani also got his hands on the blue jersey.
Although disappointed by the outcome, Marcel Kittel was keen on seeing the positive side of things: "The team did a really good job and controlled the whole race. It was difficult to stay together after that crash and we lost each other a bit in the finale, so when we got out of the tunnel we were too far from the ones at the front. That's cycling: yesterday we made it, but today we weren't rewarded for all the hard work. Still, we have to take the good parts from this stage, and those are the cohesion of the group and the fantastic job of my teammates."
The penultimate stage of the Dubai Tour will have the bunch travel near the border with Oman, for the tough finish of Hatta Dam, a small climb with a 12% average gradient, where the puncheurs will try to net a win which could help them climb in the general classification.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele