Abu Dhabi, stage 1: Kristoff claims victory

The Norwegian powered to a sprint win on the opening day of the five-stage race.

Alexander Kristoff of UAE-Emirates sprinted to victory in the opening stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour Wednesday.

The big Norwegian edged Andrea Guardini (Bardiani-CSF) and Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) at the finish line of the 189-kilometer route that started and finished in Madinat Zayed.

Kristoff will wear the race leader’s jersey during Thursday’s second stage, as he holds a 4-second lead over Guardini and a 6-second advantage over Ewan.

“In the final straight line, I lost my lead-out man Roberto Ferrari but I found the wheel of Caleb Ewan,” Kristoff said. “He’s a really good sprinter but I managed to come around him and keep the lead all the way ’till the line despite the headwind.

“It’s a great win for me and also for the team on home ground. Now we can turn the pressure down a little bit. This is our home race. It’s fantastic for me to take my second win of the season here after the last stage of the Tour of Oman last week. I have to thank my teammates. I wouldn’t have done it without them. It’s a great feeling to win as a team.”

Wednesday’s stage was marred by the abandonment of Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), who collided with the race director’s vehicle and crashed in the neutral zone before the official start.

The race continues with Thursday’s 148km stage 2 from Yas Mall to Yas Beach.

Top five, stage 1

1. Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates), in 4:48:14
2. Andrea Guardini (Bardiani-CSF), s.t.
3. Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott), s.t.
4. Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors), s.t.
5. Daniel Mclay (EF Education First-Drapac), s.t.

Top-five overall

1. Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates), in 4:48:14
2. Andrea Guardini (Bardiani-CSF), at :04
3. Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott), at :06
4. Nikolay Trusov (Gazprom-Rusvelo), at :06
5. Vincenzo Albanese (Bardiani-CSF), at :06