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Having positioned himself perfectly on Cavendish’s wheel, Viviani proved to be the fastest in the bunch sprint on the second stage of the Dubai Tour; Cavendish defended the lead on the eve of the queen stage

Photo: Tour of Turkey/Mario Stiehl

ANDREA GUARDINI

RIDER PROFILE
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NEWS

DUBAI TOUR

RACE PROFILE
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NEWS

ELIA VIVIANI

RIDER PROFILE
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NEWS

MARK CAVENDISH

RIDER PROFILE
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NEWS

SOUDAL - QUICK STEP

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NEWS

TEAM SKY

NEWS
05.02.2015 @ 13:06 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Elia Viviani took his first win for Team Sky when he got his revenge after yesterday’s defeat in stage 2 of the Dubai Tour. The Italian came perfectly off Mark Cavendish’s (Etixx-QuickStep) wheel to pass the Brit in the bunch sprint while Andrea Guardini completed the podium. Second was enough for Cavendish to defend his overall lead.

 

Going into the 2015 season, Sky have made it clear that they want to focus more on the sprints. To reach their goals, they have bolstered their team by signing Elia Viviani and Andrew Fenn and in the recent Mallorca Challenge, their reinforced lead-out train proved its strength when it secured podium spots in the two sprint races.

 

Yesterday the team even seemed to be stronger than the mighty Etixx-QuickStep train in the first stage of the Dubai Tour but Viviani was not fast enough and had to settle for third. Today he got his revenge when he beat the Mark Cavendish fair and square like he did it twice in the Tour of Turkey last year.

 

Drama was expected in the sprint was taking place on the beautiful Palm Jumeirah in Dubai as the riders were riding in a crosswind on the exposed roads but the wind was not strong enough to do any damage. Hence, it ended up as a pretty controlled sprint that was dominated by the Etixx-QuickStep team which set the pace with Tony Martin.

 

The Astana riders Alexey Lutsenko and Vincenzo Nibali gave them some respite while the Sky, Giant-Alpecina and Etixx trains were looming behind. Sky were the first to strike when Bernhard Eisel and Geraint Thomas hit the front for the British team but they came up short against Etixx-QuickStep who took over with Lukasz Wisniowski.

 

The young Pole had to fight hard against a charging Giant-Alpecin train that was led by Luka Mezgec but after he had left it to Fabio Sabatini, the Belgian team won the battle. However, the acceleration had forced Mark Renshaw to make his lead-out too early and as he was unable to maintain his speed, Andrea Guardini got the jump on Cavendish who had to come from behind.

 

Today the Brit was faster than the Astana sprinter but now Viviani had better legs than the Brit. The Italian came off his wheel and easily passed him to take a comfortable win while Cavendish and Guardini completed the podium.

 

Earlier in the day, the riders had some nervous moments when they hit a crosswinds section in the desert. A few riders briefly got dropped but the wind was not strong enough to make a difference and the stage ended as a controlled affair.

 

Despite his defeat, Cavendish defended his lead and he now takes a 2-second lead over Viviani into tomorrow’s queen stage which brings the riders from Dubai into the desert. After a flat start, the riders face a series of four climbs, with the first of two being pretty tough, and the finish line is located at the top of a 200m rise which has a maximum gradient of 20%, meaning that it will be left to the puncheurs to fight it out for the win.

 

A possibly windy stage

After the opening sprint stage, the fast riders were again expected to shine on day two of the Dubai Tour. At 187km, it was a much longer affair that brought the riders from a start in front of the Dubai International Marine Club into the desert and back to the seafront for a spectacular finish on the Palm Jumeirah Island. With 6km to go, they passed a tunnel and from there they faced a crosswind on the exposed roads in the sea.

 

The 128 riders were again greeted by beautiful sunshine when they turned up for stage 2 of the Dubai Tour. With stronger wind, more nervousness was expected but again the race got off to a pretty slow start.

 

A big break

Already very early in the race Rafaa Chtioui (SkyDive), Bernhard Eisel (Sky), Enrico Battaglin (Bardiani), Davide Frattini (UnitedHealthCare) and Chun Kai Feng (Lampre-Merida) managed to escape and they started to build an advantage. After 13km of racing, they were 50 seconds ahead and at the 32km mark, the gap had reached its temporary maximum of 2.45.

 

In the peloton, Etixx-QuickStep and Astana had taken control, with both teams keen to set up a sprint finish for race leader Mark Cavendish and Andrea Guardini respectively. Carlos Verona and Alessandro Vanotti were riding on the front and they started to stabilize the gap.

 

A fast start

The gap briefly went down a bit but the peloton again slowed down. When Frattini won the first intermediate sprint, the gap was 3.42 before it dropped to 3.25.

 

With a tailwind, the first hour was very fast and the riders had covered no less than 46.6km during the first 60 minutes. Meanwhile, the peloton had again slowed down and allowed the gap to pass the 4-minute mark.

 

Battaglin and Eisel drop back

Battaglin and Eisel decided that it was not worth the effort and they dropped back to the peloton. The peloton had decided that there was no reason to give the escapees any more leeway and for a long time they kept the gap stable between 3.30 and 4.00. Surprisingly, Astana and Etixx-QuickStep got some assistance from the UAE National Team which has missed the break for the second day in a row, with Bader Mireza swapping turns with Verona and Vanotti on the front.

 

As the riders turned into a headwind, they slowed down again, allowing the gap to grow to 5.30. While Juraj Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) chased back from a small crash, the gap stabilized around that mark for a while.

 

Frattini takes the sprints jersey

In the second intermediate sprint, Frattini tried to start the sprint from the front but he was passed by Chtioui who held off the Italian and Feng. However, Frattini had done enough to take the lead in the sprints competition. Alessandro Bazzana (UnitedHealthCare) moved ahead to pick up the final point on offer.

 

The peloton took it easy through the feed zone and when they had had their lunch, the gap was 5.40. The UAE national team had stopped their work and instead Petr Vakoc (Etixx) was now working with Verona and Vanotti.

 

Drama in the crosswinds

As the riders approached a crucial change in direction, the peloton got a lot more nervous, with big teams like BMC, Sky, Movistar and Lampre-Merida all lining up their trains next to the Etixx riders. In a big sprint into the important turn, BMC came out on top and started to ride hard with Rick Zabel, Manuel Quinziato and Daniel Oss.

 

A group of around 20 riders including the likes of Sylwester Szmyd (CCC), Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) and Evgeny Petrov (Tinkoff-Saxo) got dropped while the nervous peloton had brought the gap down to 1.30 in a very short amount of time. However, the riders realized that the wind was not strong enough and as they slowed down and allowed Verona, Vanotti and Vakoc to get back to work, the second group got back.

 

Kiserlovski crashes

Chtioui decided to take off on his own and he easily left his companions behind, with Feng and Frattini dropping back to the peloton. As the peloton was taking it easy, he managed to extend his gap to 2.40.

 

A crash brought down the Tinkoff-Saxo riders Robert Kiserlovski, Michael Kolar and Petrov but they all managed to rejoin the peloton which was taking it very easy. With 33km to go, however, Vanotti and Verona finished their work and as they were replaced by David Lopez (Sky) and Julien Vermote (Etixx-QuickStep), the pace was upped and the gap came down to 1.30.

 

Chtioui is caught

While the big teams started to move up, Chtioui again managed to extend the advantage to nearly two minutes but inside the final 20km, the fight for position started as Katusha took over the pace-setting with Angel Vicioso before again leaving it to Vermote and Vakoc, Chtioui was brought back with 10km to go.

 

Sky and BMC were now lined up on the front of the peloton and it was Geraint Thomas (Sky) who led the peloton into the important tunnel. The Welshman was still on front when they came out on the other side before Francisco Mancebo (SkyDive) and Anton Vorobyev (Katusha) both took a turn.

 

That’s when Martin took control for Etixx-QuickStep and after he had briefly been passed by the Astana riders, Sky took over, starting the fierce battle between the sprint trains.

 

Result:

1. Elia Viviani 4.29.59

2. Mark Cavendish

3. Andrea Guardini

4. Alexander Porsev

5. Andrea Palini

6. John Degenkolb

7. Daniele Ratto

8. Daniel Oss

9. Michael Valgren

10. Nicola Ruffoni

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