Abu Dhabi Tour Stage 1: Caruso Opens his 2018 Season with Day in the Breakaway21. February 2018, Medinat Zayed, Abu Dhabi (UAE) — Road Team
Damiano Caruso made his 2018 racing debut at the Abu Dhabi Tour today, putting in a strong effort as part of the day’s breakaway and riding solo over the closing kilometers of the race before all seven riders finished safely the previously predicted bunch sprint.
Caruso was part of an early move off the front of the peloton, and after covering just 5km, of the 189km out and back course, the advantage of the five-rider group was more than two minutes.
Just 10km later, and with the rest of his BMC Racing Team teammates sitting comfortably in the peloton, the advantage of Caruso and the rest of the breakaway peaked at just under five minutes.
However, with the sprinters’ teams eyeing a bunch sprint at the finish line in Medinat Zayed, the pace began to pick up and, as they headed into the second half of the stage, the leaders had been pulled back to inside 2’30”.
Approaching the 50km to go mark, the gap had fallen by over one minute as the chase heated up with the peloton looking to catch Caruso and his fellow breakaway riders and set the stage for a fast and furious run into the line.
After the breakaway extended its lead back out to over two minutes, the group split with Caruso following a move by Charles Planet (Team Novo Nordisk) which saw the duo forging ahead with 30km to go.
Caruso looked strong as he then went on the attack, distancing himself from Planet heading into the final 20km and forcing the peloton to begin a determined chase behind.
Eventually, the Italian rider was caught with only 13km to go and the battle for position began with the peloton stretched out along the road as teams set a fierce tempo going under the flamme rouge to set their sprinters up for the finish.
In the end, it was Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates) who took the day’s honors ahead of Andrea Guardini (Bardiani-CSF) and Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) while, all seven BMC Racing Team riders crossed the line safely after a chaotic sprint to the line.
Quotes From the Finish Line
"This race wasn't normally in my program, but I'm here to find my form and to help the team. For me, today was a good training opportunity. I worked hard this winter, and in the final, I was feeling good which means that my condition is already there and even now, I am feeling confident about the upcoming events."
"It was a bit slow and boring for 90% of the stage. There were some nerves with the wind, but everyone just seemed to be riding at the front for any corners as a precaution more than anything else. In the end, it was a sprint, and the team was great at helping me stay near the front in the final couple of kilometers."
Sports Director, Maximilian Sciandri:
"It was a pretty straightforward day. It is always a little hectic in the sprint but everyone was safe, and there were no time gaps. It was a good day out for Damiano Caruso, and he pushed himself a little bit to stay out there at the end. The main goal of these first three days is to get through with no major trouble, no time loss, and to make sure the team sticks together. It can be tricky sometimes with the wind, but today everything went well."
Abu Dhabi Tour
Stage 1: Medinat Zayed > Adnoc School, Medinat Zayed, 189km
Top 3: 1. Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates) 2. Andrea Guardini (Bardiani-CSF) 3. Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 22. Patrick Bevin 42. Brent Bookwalter 53. Kilian Frankiny