Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) wins stage 1 of the Abu Dhabi Tour 2018. Home team UAE Team Emirates takes the first stage of the second Emirati race of the season and gets also the first leader jersey on the shoulders of the European road race Champion. Unexpectedly, today’s runner-up is Italian Andrea Guardini (Bardiani-CSF), who has not got a podium positioning since the 2016 Abu Dhabi Tour. Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) completes the medal stand, whereas in fourth finishes Elia Viviani (Quick Step Floors) and in fifth Daniel McLay (EF Education First-Drapac). Alexander Kristoff, as anticipated, is also the first overall leader of the Abu Dhabi Tour 2018.
The neutralised zone has been merciless for Mark Cavendish. As soon as the peloton left the start in Madinat Zayed several riders went down and the British was one of those. The crash appears to have been provoked by the director’s car in front of the pack, which slowed down and so forced the riders to brake. Dimension Data said that the sprinter fell on the shoulder he broke in the crash on stage 4 of 2017 Tour de France and Cavendish decided to retire after 5 kilometers of racing in order to undergo a medical check-up.
Since the moment the race leads into the desert five men escaped from the bunch. Vincenzo Albanese (Bardiani-CSF), Toms Skuijns (Trek-Segafredo), Charles Planet (Novo Nordisk), Nikolaj Trusov (Gazprom-Rusvelo) and Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing), who attests with this attempt Dennis’ lead inside BMC Racing ranks, open a 5’ advantage after 22 kilometers of racing. Shortly after Mitchelton-Scott, Lotto-Soudal, Katusha-Alpecin and Quick Step Floors start to take turns up front to jump across the gap: in facts, after 60 kilometers from the start the gap holds on at 2’50”.
Firstly Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates), then Fabio Aru and finally Pierre Rolland (EF-Drapac) have to go back to the respective team car but the UAE riders with the help of several teammates and the latter solo go back up to the pack. In the lead, Trusov takes the first intermediate sprint instead Skuijns gets the second one: the Latvian tries to go solo after the second sprint but soon the other four riders reel in. With over 50 kilometers to go, thanks to the pace set by the sprinters’ teams up to the head of the group, the gap has lessened to 1’45”.
Caruso, Skuijns and Planet drop Albanese and Trusov with 46 kilometers to go and in this manner the leaders become three until the moment Skuijns decides to ease up when the gap fades over 50”. Caruso and Planet try to up the pace but only the BMC rider has enough energy so pushes on solo with over 18 kilometers to go. Caruso’s attempt has brief life and the peloton bridges the gap with 13 kilometers to go.
Nobody wants to take control of the peloton because of the crosswind and the pace in the head of the bunch is not high. With 6 kilometers remaining, the trains finally form: Katusha-Alpecin, Movistar and Gazprom-Rusvelo at first but also Quick Step Floors, Sunweb and Ag2r la Mondiale later take the lead of the bunch. Mitchelton-Scott and Quick Step Floors take control of the peloton with two kilometers to go but, in the decisive moment, the trains fade and Alexander Kristoff overtakes his rivals in this way taking the first stage of Abu Dhabi Toru 2018.
Abu Dhabi Tour 2018 Stage 1 Classification
1 KRISTOFF Alexander UAE-Team Emirates 4:48:24
2 GUARDINI Andrea Bardiani – CSF
3 EWAN Caleb Mitchelton-Scott
4 VIVIANI Elia Quick-Step Floors
5 MCLAY Daniel Team EF Education First-Drapac
6 BONIFAZIO Niccolo Bahrain Merida
7 BRESCIANI Michael Bardiani – CSF
8 VAN POPPEL Danny Team LottoNL-Jumbo
9 BARBIER Rudy AG2R La Mondiale
10 GREIPEL André Lotto Soudal
Abu Dhabi Tour 2018 Overall Classification
1 KRISTOFF Alexander UAE-Team Emirates 4:48:14
2 GUARDINI Andrea Bardiani – CSF +0:04
3 EWAN Caleb Mitchelton-Scott +0:06
4 TRUSOV Nikolay Gazprom-RusVelo ,,
5 ALBANESE Vincenzo Bardiani – CSF ,,
6 SKUJIŅŠ Toms Trek – Segafredo +0:07
7 CARUSO Damiano BMC Racing Team +0:09
8 VIVIANI Elia Quick-Step Floors +0:10
9 MCLAY Daniel Team EF Education First-Drapac ,,
10 BONIFAZIO Niccolo Bahrain Merida ,,