Marcel Kittel wins Dubai Tour stage 1
The German enjoyed an excellent start to the season in the Middle East race, scoring his sixth victory there after a perfect lead-out of Quick-Step Floors.
Marcel Kittel got his season up and running, picking up where he left off at the Dubai Tour, after he powered to win on stage 1 of the event, which finished on the island of Palm Jumeirah, at the end of 181 fast kilometers. It was Quick-Step Floors' seventh victory of the year, as Marcel became the team's fifth different rider to win a race and open his year in style, after Jack Bauer at the New Zealand National ITT Championships, Tom Boonen, Fernando Gaviria and Maximiliano Richeze, all three at the Vuelta a San Juan.
The inaugural stage of the Dubai Tour kicked off with an attack of five riders, who managed to take a four-minute gap on the peloton. Nicola Boem (Bardiani-CSF), Matteo Bono (UAE Abu Dhabi), Silvan Dillier (BMC), Daniel Pearson (Aqua Blue Sport) and Tom Stewart (ONE Pro Cycling) were the ones to animate the stage in its first part, but were always kept under control by the fantastic Bob Jungels and Julien Vermote; the two put in a huge amount of work and drilled it hard at the front on the flat and twisting roads of stage 1, making sure the escapees' adventure came to an end with ten kilometers to go.
As the sprint trains began forming, the Quick-Step Floors boys moved their way through the peloton and took the front inside the final two kilometers, just after the last roundabout. Other teams tried to counter, but couldn't do anything against the blue train, as Matteo Trentin and Fabio Sabatini brought Marcel Kittel in an excellent position just 200 meters from the line, setting him up for his sixth career victory in the Dubai Tour.
Marcel's huge sprint didn't give any chances to his opponents, as the 28-year-old German roared over the finish line, ahead of Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data): "I'm really happy. In the last few days I felt I was very confident about the team. I'm happy to have a winning start, just like last year", said Kittel, the race's first overall leader. "It was difficult to time it right because there are a lot of strong sprinters here and you need to find the right moment. We were always in a good position, not really in the front, but we chose the right distance to go for it. After we passed the last roundabout, we tried to find each other and we went full gas to the finish line. It worked really well."
It was Marcel's first ever victory on disc brakes, one which we was keen on sharing with the whole team: "A lot of riders came to me today and asked me about that, they were curious about the disk brakes and how it feels to ride with it. I think I made the right choice and I'm happy to have it this season. The most important thing is that we came out on top today. Last year we won many races together, and that's what we want to do also this season. The first race of the year is always insecure, because you can never know how things will work. All the guys were there today and did a great job, so this is also a victory of them."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele