Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) sprinted to victory on stage two of the 2019 UAE Tour, beating Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) in a head-to-head sprint to the line.
The Colombian benefited from a lead-out by Alexander Kristoff, but was forced to start his sprint a long way out with around 250m to go.
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Despite having Viviani on his wheel, Gaviria was able to hold his speed as the Italian champion moved to the right side of the road, beating him by a wheel to take victory on the first road stage of the race.
Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) took third from the trailing sprinters that had missed out on contesting the win after Gaviria’s final move.
Primož Roglič retained the overall lead of the race after safely finishing in the main bunch, having taken the red jersey after Jumbo-Visma’s win in the team time trial on Sunday’s stage one.
How it happened
With a pan flat route on the menu on the UAE Tour’s first road stage, the riders kicked off proceedings relatively calmly, with a breakaway easily getting up the road.
That break, containing Igor Boev, Stepan Kuriyanov (both Gazprom-RusVelo) Sam Brand and Charles Planet (both Novo Nordisk), were able to establish a 12-minute gap on the bunch.
As they passed into the final 100km, things began to change drastically.
With crosswinds now hitting the riders, the peloton really ramped up the pace, bringing the gap to the break down to just under three minutes shortly before 90km to go.
The crosswinds also saw some big splits in the main bunch, and while race leader Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) was able to make it to the front group, riders like Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo), Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) and Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), all found themselves in a trailing groups.
Porte, in the third group on the road, found himself over two minutes back from the front of peloton at one point.
With a group of around 25 riders pushing on now, the breakaway was soon to be caught, eventually being passed with around 75km to go.
The pace of that leading group then began to lull though, with the split bunches behind able to make it back in with around 72km left to race.
With everyone back together again, Kuriyanov and Planet tried their luck again in the breakaway, and were allowed to slip over four minutes up the road.
Things remained fairly calm in the lead up to an almost certain sprint finish. With 25km remaining, the break had just over two minutes advantage and looked to be flagging on the wide, open highways.
But 20km to go any hopes of staying away were looking well and truly gone, with just 40 seconds advantage and the sprint teams really ramping up the effort on the front of the peloton.
The catch was eventually made with 14km to go, with Jumbo-Visma driving the pace.
Teams then began to take it turns to control the front of the bunch heading towards the finish.
Into the final kilometre, no team was really able to properly take control, and with a leadout man each, Viviani and Gaviria were the pair dropped off towards the front and were able to face off for the win, with Gaviria coming out on top on this occasion.
UAE Tour 2019, stage two: Yas Mall to Abu Dhabi Breakwater (184km)
1. Fernando Gaviria (Col) UAE Team Emirates, in 3-36-32
2. Elia Viviani (Ita) Deceuninck-Quick-Step
3. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto-Soudal
4. Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Team Sky
5. Erik Baška (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
6. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe
7. Sacha Modolo (Ita) EF Education First
8. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin
9. Marc Sarreau (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
10. Jakub Mareczko (Ita) CCC Team, all same time
General classification after stage two
1. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma
2. Laurens De Plus (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
3. Koen Bouwman (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, all at same time
4. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb, at 6 seconds
5. Max Walsheid (Ger) Team Sunweb, at 7s
6. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb
7. Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team Sunweb, all at same time
8. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida. at 9s
9. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain-Merida