Colombian Fernando Gaviria beat the oncoming Mark Cavendish to win the first stage of the Tour of Oman.
UAE Team Emirates' Gaviria picked up his first win of the season after taking advantage of a good leadout from his fellow South American, the Argentine Maximiliano Richeze.
Coming into the final 300m, Richeze pulled off and allowed Gaviria to charge towards the line, BikeExchange-Jayco's Kaden Groves fading as Cavendish (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) emerged from the left to put pressure on Gaviria.
But Cavendish, in his first race of the season, had timed his sprint a fraction too late, having to settle for second as Groves took third.
"I said yesterday that I wanted to try and win a stage, so to win one I am very happy," Gaviria said afterwards.
"I had a lot of pressure on me in my mind because I wanted to win last week in Saudi but couldn't, so I am happy to take this first victory.
"My team did really nice work and Max made a big difference in the leadout."
Hailed as one of the peloton's fastest men between 2017 and 2019, Gaviria has struggled form during the pandemic, this being just his fifth victory since he was one of the first cyclists to get struck down with Covid at the 2020 UAE Tour.
Now 27, Gaviria's triumph at the Tour of Poland was his only success last year, but he showed a potential return to form at the Saudi Tour last week, placing third, fourth and sixth across the race.
As for Cavendish, this is his best season opener result since 2015 when he also finished second at the Tour de San Luis, coincidentally a stage won by Gaviria.
It is a positive for the 36-year-old as he looks to build on his comeback last year that saw him memorably win four stages of the Tour de France.
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