Having missed out on victory on the opening stage of the 2016 Abu Dhabi Tour, Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) timed his sprint perfectly on day two to take the win and put himself into the overall race lead.
Third behind Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) and John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) on Thursday, Cavendish put his Dimension Data team to work during the stage to ensure the ideal set-up. The Manxman repaid them with victory, the first for a British rider in the race.
Italian Elia Viviani (Team Sky) placed second with Andrea Guardini (Astana) in third.
Cavendish’s bonus seconds for the win saw him take the race lead from Nizzolo.
On another relatively short stage, the day’s escape group of Stanislau Bazhkou (Minsk), Jens Keukeleire (Orica-GreenEdge), Jan Polanc (Lampre Merida), Dion Smith (One Pro Cycling), Samuel Williams (One Pro Cycling) and Eugert Zhupa (Willier-Southeast) was given little room to grow a large time gap.
Keukeleire and Smith were both in the previous day’s break. Both were in the hunt for bonus seconds in the intermediate sprint to move up the general classification having started the day in fourth and fifth respectively. Keukeleire moved up to third for his effort.
Bazhkou dropped out of the break with 20km to go, leaving five out front with a one minute and 45 second gap.
The peloton left it very late as the break went under the flamme rouge with 10 seconds over the chasing bunch, as Team Sky hit the front. As the break were scooped up with around 500m to go, the sprinters started to open up their efforts.
Viviani hit the front first, but Cavendish managed to out-accelerate his Olympic omnium rival to win.
The 2016 Abu Dhabi Tour hits its most decisive stage on Saturday, the only stage that features a significant hill. The 11km climb to Jebel Hafeet will give the climbers a chance to shine and move up the overall classification. The race concludes on Sunday, October 23.
Abu Dhabi Tour 2016, stage two: Abu Dhabi to Abu Dhabi (Al Marina), 115km
1. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data in 2-32-21
2. Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky
3. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana
4. Jakub Mareczko (Ita) Wilier-Southeast
5. Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing
6. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
7. Chris Latham (GBr) Team Wiggins
8. Michael Kolar (Svk) Tinkoff
9. Steele Von Hoff (Aus) One Pro Cycling
10. Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Orica-BikeExchange all same time
General classification after stage two
1. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data in 5-48-06
2. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 4 secs
3. Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-BikeExchange at 5 secs
4. Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky at 8 secs
5. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Alpecin at 8 secs
6. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana at 10 secs
7. Dion Smith (NZl) One Pro Cycling at 10 secs
8. Chris Latham (GBr) Team Wiggins at 14 secs
9. Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing at 14 secs
10. Michael Kolar (Svk) Tinkoff at 14 secs