Dubai Tour, stage 2: Viviani sprints to birthday victory

RAS AL-KHAIMAH, United Arab Emirates (AFP) — Elia Viviani (Quick Step-Floors) won stage 2 at the Dubai Tour Wednesday as Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) kept the blue leader’s jersey.

Viviani beat Groenewegen and Riccardo Minali (Astana) at the finish line in Ras el-Khaimah after a 190-kilometer route that began in Dubai. It was an ideal 29th birthday present for Viviani.

“This is the best cycling birthday present I’ve ever had,” said Viviani who was third in stage 1. “My motivation came also from losing yesterday which increased my desire.”

Top 10, stage 2

  • 1. Elia Viviani, QUICK – STEP FLOORS, in 4:34:31
  • 2. Dylan Groenewegen, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, s.t.
  • 3. Riccardo Minali, ASTANA PRO TEAM, s.t.
  • 4. Mark Cavendish, TEAM DIMENSION DATA, s.t.
  • 5. John Degenkolb, TREK – SEGAFREDO, s.t.
  • 6. Magnus Cort Nielsen, ASTANA PRO TEAM, s.t.
  • 7. Alexander Kristoff, UAE TEAM EMIRATES, s.t.
  • 8. Jean-Pierre Drucker, BMC RACING TEAM, s.t.
  • 9. Sonny Colbrelli, BAHRAIN – MERIDA, s.t.
  • 10. Adam Blythe, AQUA BLUE SPORT, s.t.

Top-10 overall

  • 1. Dylan Groenewegen, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, in 8:25:50
  • 2. Elia Viviani, QUICK – STEP FLOORS, at :02
  • 3. Nathan Van Hooydonck, BMC RACING TEAM, at :09
  • 4. Magnus Cort Nielsen, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :10
  • 5. Riccardo Minali, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :12
  • 6. Alexander Kristoff, UAE TEAM EMIRATES, at :16
  • 7. Nacer Bouhanni, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, s.t.
  • 8. Sonny Colbrelli, BAHRAIN – MERIDA, s.t.
  • 9. John Degenkolb, TREK – SEGAFREDO, s.t.
  • 10. Jacob Hennessy, MITCHELTON – BIKEEXCHANGE, s.t.

The day’s escape group included Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) and Charles Planet (Team Novo Nordisk) and was caught by the peloton just 9km from the finish.

Niki Terpstra led the Quick-Step Floors team’s sprint train into the final kilometers with Viviani fourth wheel, right on Fabio Sabatini’s wheel.

In the final 500 meters, most of the top sprinters were isolated. Jakob Mareczko (Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia) hit out early but he was soon passed by as Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) opened up his sprint.

The Norwegian’s acceleration was the perfect lead-out for Viviani who won with a bike throw.

“The last kilometer was chaotic, but it’s always like that when you have the best sprinters in the world fighting for victory,” Viviani said. “The team made their presence felt, and with 500 meters left, Saba [Sabatini] closed the gap to the riders in the front. Then, I got into the wheel of Kristoff and decided to sprint earlier than yesterday.”

Groenewegen leads Viviani by two seconds in the general classification, while Nathan Van Hooydonck (BMC Racing) is nine ticks back. The Dutch leader said he regretted a mechanical with 65km to go, which forced him to chase back to the field.

“I’m a little bit disappointed because of a mechanical that made me lose my train,” Groenewegen said. “But everything remains possible for me in the Dubai Tour. I’ll try to win GC.”

Thursday’s stage 3 is a 180km route from Dubai and Fujairah. The flat course favors the sprinters in the field.