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After a crash had disrupted the sprint at the exit of the important tunnel, Viviani held off compatriots Modolo and Nizzolo to take a comfortable sprint win and the leader’s jersey on stage 2 of the Dubai Tour

Photo: Sirotti

DUBAI TOUR

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ELIA VIVIANI

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GIACOMO NIZZOLO

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SACHA MODOLO

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TEAM SKY

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04.02.2016 @ 12:36 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Elia Viviani (Sky) confirmed his good feelings for sprinting in the Middle East when he won the spectacular Palm Jumeirah stage at the Dubai Tour for the second year in a row. After his Sky team had avoided a crash at the exit of an important tunnel just before the flamme rouge, the Italian was delivered perfectly on the front and easily held off Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek). Marcel Kittel (Etixx-QuickStep) was held up behind the crash and so Viviani is the new leader on a countback.

 

One year ago Elia Viviani got his Sky career off to the best possible start when he won the second stage of the Dubai Tour on the Palm Jumeirah island in Dubai. Later he confirmed his sprinting credentials in the Middle East by winning a stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour and this year he aims at conforming his sprinting potential in the Middle East.

 

Things didn’t come together for the Sky rider in the first stage as his team messed up the lead-out and he had to do an early sprint just to get back into position. That made him hungry for revenge in the stage he won 12 months ago and he succeeded as he teammates made amends by delivering him perfectly to a first 2016 victory.

 

Everything for set for the expected bunch sprint when Francisco Mancebo (Skydive) was the final rider from the early break to be caught with 12.2km to go. At that point, it was the ONE team that had taken control, with Marcin Bialoblocki who had spent most of the stage in the break, taking a huge turn of almost 5km.

 

The riders knew that they would hit a big road and so the sprint trains had time to move up. That created some hesitation and they allowed ONE to set the pace for a long time.

 

With 7km to go, Daniil Fominykh led Astana up next to the ONE riders who were now led by Martin Mortensen and CCC also came to the fore. Sky and Lampre-Merida showed their intentions too and when they hit the wide road, those trains were all lined up next to each other.

 

Matteo Bono took a short turn for Lampre-Merida before Team WIGGINS took full control with 3km to go. Bradley Wiggins did a lot of work before he swung off and it was one of his teammates that led the peloton into the crucial tunnel just 2km from the finish.

 

TV images didn’t show what happened in there but apparently a Trek rider went down just before they exited. That significantly impacted the sprint and when three Tinkoff riders led the peloton to the flamme rouge, only around 20 riders had made it past the crash.

 

Pre-race favourites Marcel Kittel and Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) were both out of position and had no chance to get back to the front as Daniele Bennati took a massive turn to set Michael Kolar up for the sprint. Further back, Ben Swift and Viviani had latched onto the Slovakian’s wheel, followed by Sacha Modolo and Giacomo Nizzolo.

 

Kolar started his sprint from the front but at the same time, Swift and Viviani both launched their effort too. They easily passed the fading Tinkoff rider and Modolo and Nizzolo could do nothing but stay in their position while Viviani easily rolled across the line to take the win. Cavendish finished the stage in 10th while Kittel was even further back.

 

Viviani picked up 10 bonus seconds and is now equal on time with Kittel. However, he takes the leader’s jersey on a countback before he heads into tomorrow’s queen stage. It is a mostly flat affair in the desert but has a tricky finale with two small climbs leading to the spectacular uphill sprint on the 200m ramp to Hatta Dam which includes 20% sections near the top.

 

A flat stage

After the opening desert stage, the riders spent most of the day in the city of Dubai when they tackled the 183km second stage. It brought them from a start at the Dubai Marine Club on a small sightseeing trip to several sports complexes in the area before they returned to the finish on the Palm Jumeirah Island in the city centre after a completely flat ride.

 

It was a sunny and relatively calm day when the riders gathered for the start. All riders that finished yesterday’s stage were present as they rolled out for their neutral ride.

 

Four riders get clear

Yesterday it took some time for the early break to be formed but today things were much calmer. Bialoblocki was the first to take off and he was part of the move when four riders got clear after just a few kilometres of racing.

 

Mancebo, Koen De Kort (Giant-Alpecin) and Silvan Dillier (BMC) joined forces with the Pole and the quartet had built and advantage of 1.30 after 20km of racing. However, Etixx-QuickStep and Dimension Data didn’t want to leave anything to chance and quickly positioned Daniel Teklehaimaot, Julien Vermote and Iljo Keisse on the front and those three riders kept the gap between 1.30 and 2.00 for the first half of the race.

 

Mancebo takes off

After 80km of racing, the gap was still only 1.50. At this point, Bialoblocki beat Dillier and De Kort in the first intermediate sprint and he was again the fastest in the second one, with Dillier again second and De Kort third.

 

At this point, the gap was only 1.20 and this prompted Mancebo to try a solo attack. The Spaniard managed to put 20 seconds into his former companions but they slowly reeled him in with 68km to go and just a few kilometres of freedom.

 

Sprint points for Bialoblocki

Mancebo managed to push the gap out to 2 minutes though but Etixx-QuickStep and Dimension Data had things under control. Songezo Jim took over from Teklehaimanot and started to work with Keisse and Vermote.

 

With 55km to go, the gap was only a minute and it dropped to 50 seconds just 2km later as the escapees saved energy for the final intermediate sprint. Mancebo tried to make a surprise attack by taking the other way in a roundabout but he was brought back in time for the sprint where Bialoblocki again beat De Kort and Dillier to take the lead in the sprints competition.

 

The break is caught

The gap went back up to 1.30 as the escapees again started to work together and it was still 1.15 with 35km to go. Meanwhile, the sprint teams started to gather their troops near the front behind Vermote, Jim and Keisse.

 

With 25km to go, the gap was again less than a minute and when it was down to 40 seconds just two kilometres, Bialoblocki launched a failed solo attack. The escapees started to cooperate again but with 17km to go, they only had a 15-second advantage.

 

With 16km to go, Mancebo made a solo move and while he continued to fight on, the rest of the break sat up. Jim, Keisse and Vermote brought them back while Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) and Majed Abloushi (Al Nasr) hit the deck in a small crash. Moments later, Mortensen took control for ONE that brought Mancebo back with 12.2km to go to set the scene for the bunch sprint.

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