Abu Dhabi Tour: Viviani beats Sagan in stage 2 sprint finish

The Sky rider out-sprints the world champion at the finish line of the second stage in the Middle Eastern race.

Elia Viviani beat world champion Peter Sagan in a head-to-head sprint in stage 2 at the Abu Dhabi Tour Friday.

The Sky rider timed his sprint perfectly, launching ahead in the closing meters of the 129-kilometer stage around Abu Dhabi. Sagan, of Tinkoff-Saxo, finished nearly a bike length behind Viviani to take second.

Fabio Sabatini of Etixx-Quick-Step placed third.

Viviani’s victory gave him the overall lead in the four-day race. Astana’s Andrea Guardini, who won stage 1, is second with the same time as Viviani. Sagan is third at 4 seconds back.

Sagan surged to the front of the speeding pack with about 150 meters left, with Viviani latched onto his wheel. Shortly after, Viviani pulled around Sagan and shot forward, taking the win in authoritative fashion.

“Yesterday, the team worked all day, but I lost position on the final corner and I had to make up too much ground to make the top three. Today we decided to do no work, and to leave me two teammates for the leadout,” Viviani said after the stage.

“About 1km from the finish, I had to make a big effort to get on Sagan’s wheel. On the final corner, [Andrea] Palini and another rider moved on the inside, but I did not like the look of it and held back. Sagan went, and I knew I had to wait, but not too long because he is so strong. But sprinting is my job, and I managed to get past him, and I am delighted to have taken another win. The conditions today were considerably better than yesterday, and it was a good day for me and the team.”

Stage 2 was marred, however, by an early crash that sent Sabatini’s teammate Tom Boonen and MTN-Qhubeka’s Theo Bos to the hospital. Boonen took the worst of it, briefly losing consciousness before being helped into an ambulance.

“Unconscious? Just a few seconds because of the crash, but a few seconds is very normal,” said local race doctor Christos Karavolias, who treated Boonen. “Blood? Yes, some scratches, but nothing severe. It wasn’t coming from his [ear], but from scratches from around the outside his ear.”

The race picks up with Saturday’s 140km stage 3.