Elia Viviani (Quick Step Floors) takes the sprint in stage 2 of the Abu Dhabi Tour 2018. The Italian sprinter proved more powerful than the crosswinds and gets his fifth success in this season. The peloton, which splitted in three smaller groups due to the crosswind within the last 50 kilometers of racing, returns all together with over 16 kilometers to go and in this manner all the best sprinters could play their cards on the finish line of Yas Beach. Former Sky rider wins the sprint over the overall leader Danny van Poppel (Lotto Nl-Jumbo), youngsters Pascal Ackermann (Bora-hansgrohe) and Kristoffer Halvorsen (Team Sky) and Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott), who finishes in fifth. Elia Viviani becomes the new overall leader of the Abu Dhabi Tour 2018.
As soon as the race starts, five men attempt to form a breakaway. These athletes immediately open a gap over the peloton and in a while they get a reassuring advantage. Joey Rosskopf (BMC Racing), Jaco Venter (Dimension Data), Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani CSF), Alexander Porsev (Gazprom-RusVelo) and again Charles Planet (Novo Nordisk) make up the breakaway, which takes a maximum advantage over the bunch equal to 4’. Their experience in the lead lasts only a hundred kilometers because of the high pace settled by the group, which allows the peloton to reel in the break.
With over 47 kilometers remaining, several teams head up the peloton and start kicking with a devilish pace because of the arise of crosswind. First Movistar and Katusha – Alpecin and then Lotto – Soudal go at the front of the pack and, due to their efforts, the peloton splits into three groups! Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) cannot keep up the leading pack and sets up in the second group with Rafal Majka (Bora – Hansgrohe) and Alexandre Geniez (AG2R La Mondiale) with 30 seconds behind the lead, whereas in the third pack, more than a minute behind the first group, are confined Elia Viviani (Quick Step), Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain – Merida) and Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb).
In the lead group there are both sprinters and GC contenders such Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Julian Alaphilippe (Quick Step), Ilnur Zakarin and Marcel Kittel (Katusha – Alpecin), André Greipel (Lotto – Soudal), Danny van Poppel (LottoNL – Jumbo), Rohan Dennis (BMC) Caleb Ewan and Simon Yates (Mitchelton – Scott), Fabio Aru and Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates). Quite unclear is the tactic with which UAE Team Emirates approaches the situation: Aru and Rui Costa struggle in the head of the leading group and the same do other teammates in front of the second one in order to help Kristoff to bridge the 30 seconds gap to the lead.
With over 25 kilometers to go the seconds group, reeled in by the third one, starts to jump across the leaders mainly thanks to the efforts of UAE Team Emirates, Quick Step Floors and Bora-hansgrohe in the head. The gap slowly fades as the time goes on and, with over 16 kilometers remaining, the peloton is again all together. At this point Movistar takes control of the pack and Quick Step Floors men, together with Bora-hansgrohe, back up the group. The situation of racing remains very nervous and inevitably undergoes to a bunch finish.
As done yesterday, James Knox (Quick Step Floors) is sent to lead the peloton in the name of the Belgian team and just behind him Team Sky lines up. Then, Katusha-Alpecin and Lotto Nl-Jumbo set up respectively on the right and on the left hand side of the road and, not unlike the various occasions in which Katusha train has been called to action this year, with two kilometers to go Kittel’s train fragments. Quick Step Floors leads the pack in the last kilometer with Alaphilippe setting the pace. Van Poppel tries to sprint in advance but Viviani retrieves and overcomes the Dutch, in this way taking both the stage win and the overall lead.
Abu Dhabi Tour Stage 2 Results
1 Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors
2 Danny van Poppel (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
3 Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
4 Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Team Sky
5 Caleb Ewan (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
6 Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Team Sunweb
7 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
8 Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
9 Rudy Barbier (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
10 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Dimension Data
Abu Dhabi Tour 2018 Overall Classification
1 Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors 8:03:44
2 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
3 Danny van Poppel (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 0:00:04
4 Andrea Guardini (Ita) Bardiani CSF
5 Caleb Ewan (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott 0:00:06
6 Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
7 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:07
8 Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo
9 Alessandro Tonelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF
10 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Dimension Data 0:00:08