Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) has said it was his team’s efforts to study the tape of his failed sprint on the same finish last year that was key to his win on stage one of the Abu Dhabi Tour today.
Last October, when the race occupied a different slot on the calendar, Cavendish came third in the sprint finish at the same location.
Today he bettered that beating André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) and Niccolo Bonifazio (Bahrain-Merida) into second and third place respectively.
Speaking after the stage Cavendish said: “Today we watched and studied the final last year it was the same finish and we did everything wrong, so we actually did make a conscious effort to study what we did and do the opposite of last year.”
“We did what we planned to do. I didn’t have to do anything today the guys were faultless.”
Watch: Dubai Tour stage one highlights
However, Cavendish declined to breakdown the details of what exactly the team had changed, possibly wary of giving something away to his rivals.
The Manxman, who will now wear the race’s red race leader’s jersey tomorrow, said he did not draw any special confidence boost from taking first blood in a field stacked with most of the world’s best sprinters.
“I take more of a boost that my team did everything right than from beating the other people who are here. If I had lost today I would have had a lot of grovelling to do,” he said.
When asked if he felt a greater level of confidence for Milan-San Remo less than a month out from the season’s maiden Monument than he had done a year ago Cavendish said: “It’s not a confidence thing at all I’m a realist I know what I need to do and what I do… I know if I’m in form or not in form and for this season I’m quite confident with where my form is right now.”
Cavendish is now aiming to double his 2017 win tally tomorrow on a finish he won on last year in Abu Dhabi city itself.
“It’s wicked I remember that stage last year and the year before its an incredible city Abu Dhabi. Especially going past the Sheikh Zayed mosque, it’s one of the most incredible things you’ll see.
“Last year there could have been a crash because the whole peloton just turns and stares”