Italian national champion Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) won the bunch sprint on the opening stage of the 2016 Abu Dhabi Tour on Thursday.
Nizzolo out-paced a host of top-tier sprint talent to earn the right to wear the race leader’s jersey. John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) came home in second, with Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) in third.
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British rider Chris Latham (Team Wiggins) placed fifth.
Nizzolo leads Degenkolb overall by four seconds overall thanks to his winner’s time bonus, with Cavendish in third place at six seconds.
The day’s break consisted of Jens Keukeleire (Orica-BikeExchange), Michael Matthews (Orica-BikeExchange), Dion Smith (One Pro Cycling) and Gatis Smukulis (Astana). The four spent a fast-paced day out front in the Abu Dhabi desert before being reeled in with 7.3km to go to set up a bunch sprint.
A succession of teams then jostled for position at the front of the bunch, with the pace kept high to neutralise any attacks. Dimension Data, BMC, Giant-Alpecin and One Pro Cycling were all visible on the front in the final five kilometres.
Nizzolo led the sprint in the final straight and despite the formidable sprint firepower massing behind him, managed to take the victory and his seventh win of 2016.
Sky sprinter Elia Viviani and Lotto-Soudal fastman André Greipel failed to make the top 10, having been among the pre-stage favourites for the win.
The 2016 Abu Dhabi Tour continues on Friday with stage two from Abu Dhabi to Al Marina over 115km and is widely expected to finish in another bunch sprint. The four-day, UCI 2.HC race concludes on Sunday.
Abu Dhabi Tour 2016, stage one: Madinat Zayed to Madinat Zayed, 147km
1. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo in 3-15-59
2. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Alpecin
3. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data
4. Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Orica-BikeExchange
5. Christopher Latham (GBr) Team Wiggins
6. Michael Kolar (Svk) Tinkoff
7. Roman Maikin (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo
8. Marco Coledean (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
9. Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing
10. Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Giant-Alpecin all same time
General classification after stage one
1. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo in 3-15-49
2. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Alpecin at 4 secs
3. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data at 6 secs
4. Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-BikeExchange at 7 secs
5. Dion Smith (NZl) One Pro Cycling at 9 secs
6. Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Orica-BikeExchange at 10 secs
7. Christopher Latham (GBr) Team Wiggins at 10 secs
8. Michael Kolar (Svk) Tinkoff at 10 secs
9. Roman Maikin (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo at 10 secs
10. Marco Coledean (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 10 secs