Andrea Guardini sprinted to victory in stage 1 of the inaugural Abu Dhabi Tour, which faced searing 127-degree heat on Thursday.
“I knew that I had the legs to do a really powerful sprint,” he said. “I moved over to the left side, and I went. At that moment, I remembered what it was like to win the stage in the Giro d’Italia.”
The 160-kilometer stage, which was shortened by 15 kilometers because of the desert heat, ended in a high-speed bunch sprint after Francisco Mancebo (Skydive-Dubai) was caught around 20km to go. Mancebo had escaped with a six-man breakaway at the outset of the stage. He then rode on alone after the second intermediate sprint.
World champion Peter Sagan of Tinkoff-Saxo was briefly at the head of the field in the race’s closing meters, but he was attempting to lead-out teammate Daniele Bennati, rather than sprint for individual glory, and would finish out of the top 10. Astana’s Guardini surged ahead with 250 meters left and cruised to a victory over Tom Boonen of Etixx-Quick-Step and Bennati.
The four-day race resumes with Friday’s 130km stage 2.