Mark Cavendish claimed the opening stage of this year’s Dubai Tour today, after nixing Andrea Guardini in a sprint finale.
Cavendish’s lead-out man, Mark Renshaw, delivered the "Manx Missile" into perfect position during the final 300 meters, to pipe a rapidly closing Guardini by mere inches – to seize the victory.
Indeed, the finish was so close, that race officials had to rely on a photo finish in order to determine the winner.
Today’s stage saw a breakaway group containing Enrico Battaglin (Bardiani), Rafael Valls (Lampre-Merida), Vladimir Gusev (Skydive Dubai), Nicolas Lefrançois (Novo Nordisk) and Alessandro Bazzana (UnitedHealthCare), get underway during the first 10 kilometers of the race. However, their advantage over the peloton, never went beyond a minute and a half or so.
From there, the race pretty much remained uneventful, with Team Sky and Etixx-QuickStep taking turns keeping a watchful eye on the escapees, while also vying for intermediate sprint points.
As the race entered into the final 20 kilometers, the breakaway group was caught, with final sallies from Tinkoff-Saxo’s, Manuel Boaro and Sky’s, Ben Swift, – picking up the remaining sprint points.
With two kilometers remaining, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) put in a long effort at the front – presumably to help set-up his teammate Guardini for what was shaping up to be a sprint finish – only to be reabsorbed by the peloton.
From there, teams began ushering their sprinters into position for the sprint finale, where Cavendish emerged victorious by the slightest of margins.
Top 10 Finishers
1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Etixx – Quick-Step 3:25:00
2 Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana Pro Team
3 Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky
4 Alexander Porsev (Rus) Team Katusha
5 Juan Jose Lobato (Spa) Movistar Team
6 Luka Mezgec (Slo) Team Giant-Alpecin
7 Andrea Palini (Ita) Skydive Dubai Pro Cycling
8 Paolo Simion (Ita) Bardiani CSF
9 Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team
10 Martijn Verschoor (Ned) Team Novo Nordisk
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