Chaotic Sprint After Late Crash on Abu Dhabi Tour Stage 123. February 2017, Abu Dhabi (UAE) — Road Team
A late crash on the out and back route from Madinat Zayed on Abu Dhabi Tour Stage 1 saw Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data) take the win in a chaotic sprint finish with all eight BMC Racing Team riders crossing the line safely.
Attacks started as soon as the flag was dropped and the peloton was happy to let the first group of six riders go clear after only 10 minutes of racing.
The difference in pace between the breakaway and the peloton saw their advantage quickly rise to over 5 minutes on the flat, straight road through the desert.
As the roads began to ripple through the sand dunes, the race hit the halfway point and made a 360-degree turn to head back to the finish. At this point, the advantage of the breakaway had started to fall steadily, and soon the riders were sitting within just two minutes of the main bunch.
With a bunch sprint predicted at the end of the 189km stage, it was only inevitable that the peloton would reel in the breakaway. With 15km to go, that's exactly what happened, and the race headed towards a fast finale.
High tailwinds saw the speed of the peloton rise as the battle for position commenced with 4km to go. However, a crash going under the 'Flamme Rouge' ripped apart the peloton and eventually it was Cavendish who was able to power to win in the reduced sprint for the line.
Quotes from the Finish Line
Tejay van Garderen:
"It was the fairly relaxed stage for us as we knew coming into today's race that we would be looking at a sprint finish. I felt good on the bike for my first day racing of the year, and with the chaos at the finish, I am happy to cross the line in one piece."
"Today was a good first race-day of the season, I had to delay my start due to illness, but everything is now getting better. It was a pretty quiet race until the last 20km, that was when it started to get a bit crazy with crashes and echelons. But it made me remember exactly what it's like to be part of a professional bike race."
Abu Dhabi Tour
Stage 1: Madinat Zayed > Madinat Zayed, 189km
Top 3: 1. Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data) 2. André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) 3. Niccolo Bonifazio (Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 39. Nicolas Roche 40. Tejay van Garderen 65. Samuel Sánchez