Reigning Italian champion Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek - Segafredo) won Stage 1 of the second Abu Dhabi Tour as he outsprinted John Degenkolb (Team Giant - Alpecin) and race ambassador Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data). Breakaway riders Gatis Smukulis (Astana Pro Team), Dion Smith (One Pro Cycling), Michael Matthews and Jens Keukeleire (Orica-BikeExchange) ended their adventure 7km before the finish line. Only a few days after his worthy fifth place at the World Championship road race, Nizzolo will start Stage 2, the Nation Towers stage, in Abu Dhabi wearing the Red Jersey of race leader.
1 - Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) 147km in 3h15’59”, average speed 45.003km/h
2 - John Degenkolb (Team Giant - Alpecin) at 4"
3 - Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data) at 6"
- RED JERSEY, sponsored by Abu Dhabi Sports Council (General Classification by time) – Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo)
- GREEN JERSEY, sponsored by Nation Towers (General Classification by points) – Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo)
- WHITE JERSEY, sponsored by Abu Dhabi Sports (Best Young Rider, born after 1 January 1991) – Dion Smith (One Pro Cycling)
- BLACK JERSEY, sponsored by Etihad (Intermediate Sprint Classification) – Jens Keukeleire (Orica - BikeExchange)
1 - Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo)
2 - John Degenkolb (Team Giant - Alpecin) s.t.
3 - Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data) s.t.
In the press conference, today's stage winner and Red and Green Jersey said: "It means a lot for me to lead the Abu Dhabi Tour, especially after Sunday’s World Championships. A victory here is the best way to start. I asked my team to put me in a good place with 1km to go. At the roundabout 700m away from the line, I was well placed behind Giant-Alpecin and I managed by myself. I started my sprint with 200m to go. I don’t think I’m the fastest but we’ll try to defend the jersey tomorrow even though we’re here with a stagiaire and Niccolo Bonifazio who is not feeling very well."
After the finish line, the Black Jersey, Jens Keukeleire, said: "It was a little bit of a surprise to have two Orica-BikeExchange riders in the breakaway. At the start, many riders were trying to go and I found myself at the front with Michael Matthews. It was in single file, so I told Michael ‘let’s give it a crack’ and it was only him and me who went away. Sure it wasn’t the plan today but luckily two more guys came across and helped us out. The last 60km were hard in the headwind, and unfortunately we didn’t make it to the finish."
The White Jersey of Best Young Rider, Dion Smith, said: "It kind of just happened but when I was there in the breakaway, I first thought I’d go for the green jersey but the second option was the white jersey by gaining some time bonus. It worked out well; I got two second places there [in the intermediate sprints]. I’d like to defend the white jersey on the hilltop finish, we’ll see how long I can stay up there. The coming stages are interesting, I’m looking forward to them; this is my first time racing in the Middle East!"