Viviani wins Dubai Tour stage 2, Cavendish keeps GC lead

Mark Cavendish maintains his grip on the race lead with two stages remaining

DUBAI (AFP) — Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick-Step) was pipped for victory in the second stage of the Dubai Tour by Elia Viviani on Thursday but kept the race leader’s jersey.

The Briton was second on the 185-kilometer run from Dubai International Marine Club to Palm Jumeirah, but the bonus seconds he took in winning Wednesday’s opening stage ensured he remained in the leader’s blue jersey.

“Team Sky had faith in me,” said Viviani. “They trusted in my results; they believe in me, which is very important for me. You could see it in the teamwork that we’ve put into the first sprints I’ve taken part in for Team Sky. I’ve been in three sprints, and in all three I’ve been in a position to challenge for victory. The win has come in my third sprint, after two podium placings.”

Sky’s Viviani, who was third on Wednesday, is now just two seconds behind after clawing back four of the six seconds he lost to Cavendish on the opening stage.

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Cavendish’s team led him into the final kilometer at the front of the field but Astana’s Andrea Guardini, who lost out to the Manxman on Wednesday in a photo-finish, was first to shoot for the line.

“Today, to be fair, obviously I’d like to win. I’m disappointed with second,” Cavendish said. “But I take a lot of positives from my sprint like the power I put out and how Etixx–Quick-Step rode. You know, Etixx–Quick-Step rode really strong all day. It was windy; it was hard to stay up there. In the final, we got just caught on the wrong side, unfortunately. We lost the drag race into the final turn.”

Having left his charge too late on the opening stage, the Italian went too early this time and countryman Viviani jumped on his wheel before powering past to take a clear victory — his first since joining Sky this season — with Cavendish passing the fading Guardini.

Friday’s third and penultimate stage is the longest of the race, covering 205km from the Marine Club to Hatta Dam.