Quick-Step overcomes late-race puncture and delivers Olympic omnium champion Elia Viviani to second stage win of the season …
Former Team Sky sprinter Elia Viviani is not wasting any time making an impact for his new Quick-Step squad as the Italian Olympic track champion celebrated his 29th birthday with his second stage win of the season.
Video - Viviani holds off Cavendish to take victory in Stage 2
Just two weeks removed from taking a stage victory at the UCI WorldTour opener in Australia (Tour Down Under), Viviani overcame a puncture with 20 kilometres to go in the 190km second stage of the Dubai Tour (2.HC) on Wednesday to take the win over previous stage winner and current race leader Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo), Riccardo Minali (Astana Pro Team) and 2015 race winner Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data).
Reigning back-to-back race winner Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) finished outside the top 10 for the second straight day.
The 2016 Rio omnium gold medallist credits his new team for making adjustments following his third place finish on Stage 1 and overcoming an untimely flat in the closing kilometres to the finish in Ras al Khaimah.
“[It is a] special day,” Viviani told Eurosport. ”We were really disappointed yesterday. As always when you lose you have more motivation the day after so [last] night we do a meeting after yesterday’s stage and we see what we missed to take the win — and today we do a perfect job.
“We had a puncture at 20k to go, so with disc brake it’s not easy to change, it’s not fast to change the wheel, but mechanics [did] a perfect job and guys come back to bring me again in perfect position,” he continued. “It was a chaotic final.
“I say to [Fabio] Sabatini — the last man — try to follow our wheel, but if something happens give me the space there to go today. After yesterday I was really frustrated to be close, but can’t go really full, so today when I see the road free, I’m thinking jut to go and if someone passes me it’s because they are stronger.
“Good thing to finish on the line first.”
Like the opening stage, a five-rider break launched soon after the start with BMC Racing’s Nathan Van Hooydonck (BEL) once again in the group. Not long after the quintet was joined by Charles Planet (Team Novo Nordisk), who like van Hooydonck, who moves to third overall, spent another long day at the pointy end of the race.
“I was supposed to save my legs for Hatta Dam (Stage 4), because I like [that] stage, but I was feeling really good the first part of the race,” Planet told Eurosport. “I go full gas to bridge to the five guys on the front and it was really nice to be on the front again.”
According to 24-year-old Frenchman, who races for the world’s only all-diabetic pro cycling team, it’s his early season form and not the pancake-flat first two stages that has allowed him to take the fight to the field.
“The parcours doesn’t suit me,” he admitted. “I’m not a climber, [but] I don’t like when it’s too flat. Definitely I am much stronger than last year.
“I can see for sure that last year I couldn’t do that full gas for 30k at the end of the race, and it was really nice for me today.”
The fifth edition of the five-stage UCI Asia Tour road race continues on Thursday with another sprinter-friendly stage from Skydive Dubai. This time a 180km route from the Arabian Gulf to Fujairah on the Indian Ocean (Gulf of Oman).
For full stage and race results, click here.