Mark Cavendish (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) managed to take victory on the second stage of the UAE Tour, holding off red jersey holder Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) in a bunch sprint by pipping him to the line.
The pair battled in a two-man race in the final 100m, dropping the rest of the field's talented sprinters in the final couple of hundred metres. Cavendish attacked early on, and managed to maintain just enough distance between him and the Belgian to take the victory by a wheel.
This is Cavendish's second win of the 2022 season, having already won on stage two of the Tour of Oman two weeks ago.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) showed the race’s stacked field of fast men that he would be the man to beat this season, finishing ahead of Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Dmitry Strakhov to the win on stage one of the race yesterday. The young Belgian entered the second day wearing the red jersey, ahead of another suitable stage for sprinters.
Starting in Hudayriyat Island and finishing with an extended straight to Abu Dhabi breakwater, the second stage of the UAE Tour offers an extremely flat race. Riding in an urban environment and without any difficult profiles to manoeuvre, the stage represented another perfect opportunity for the field of sprinters to battle it out.
From extremely early in the race, three Gazprom-RusVelo riders - Pavel Kochetkov, Michael Kukrle and Dmitry Strakhov - created a breakaway group, maintaining a lead over the peloton by between one and two minutes for over 100km.
However, with three hours of racing complete and with the route coming back into the city after a long spell skirting around it in the desert, the breakaway group decided to reacquaint themselves with the peloton, slowing down completely to slot back in.
With the pace dropping off as the riders came up against a strong headwind, Elia Viviani and Filippo Ganna decided to take matters into their own hands somewhat by jumping in front of the peloton to drag some riders along with them.
Heading into the final 10km the lead-outs began, stringing out across the wide roads before the final corner pinch point arrived, with 1200m to go. Riders attempted to jostle for position ahead of the extended straight, causing chaos in the peloton as they all knew the importance of heading into the final corner at the front.
Groupama-FDJ took control on the lead-in, but sprinters surrounded them as each one took turns to attack. Mark Cavendish and Jasper Philipsen managed to escape from the group bunching up, leaving enough room between themselves and the rest of the sprinters to open up a gap. Sam Bennett managed to trap Arnaud Démare, stopping the Frenchman from challenging as he himself struggled to match the speed Cavendish displayed.
Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) managed to complete the podium, finishing in third ahead of Olav Kooij (Jumbo-Visma) in what proved an exceptionally close ending.
Surprisingly, Bennett ended up finishing 17th, while Dylan Groenewegen could only managed 14th, and Elia Viviani crossed the line 24th.
This win represents some sort of redemption for Cavendish, who was blocked in the sprint of the final stage at the Tour of Oman by Maximiliano Richeze (UAE Team Emirates), scuppering his chances of securing the green jersey.
1. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, in 4-20-45
2. Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix in same time
3. Pascal Ackermann (Ger) UAE Team Emirates
4. Olav Kooij (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
5. Arnaud Démare (Fra) Groupama FDJ
6. Matteo Malucelli (Ita) Gazprom-RusVelo
7. Emīls Liepiņš (Lat) Trek-Segafredo
8. Tom Devriendt (Bel) Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux
9. Michael Schwarzmann (Ger) Lotto Soudal
10. Marijn van den Berg (Ned) EF Education-EasyPost
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE TWO
1. Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix, in 9-03-03
2. Dmitry Strakhov (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo at 4 seconds
3. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl at 6s
4. Sam Bennett (Ire) Bora-Hansgrohe at 10s
5. Pascal Ackermann (Ger) UAE Team Emirates at 12s
6. Elia Viviani (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers at 12s
7. Michael Kukrle (Cze) Gazprom-RusVelo at 12s
8. Alessandro Tonelli (Ita) Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè at 12s
9. Xandres Vervloesem (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 14s
10. Arnaud Démare (Fra) Groupama FDJ at 16s
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Ryan is a staff writer for Cycling Weekly, having joined the team in September 2021. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before making his way to cycling. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer.
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