February 3, 2017
Cavendish wins Stage 1 of the Abu Dhabi Tour and takes the Red Jersey
Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data) outpaced Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) on the opening sage of the 2017 Abu Dhabi Tour, the Emirates Motor Company Stage.
The win coming from a bunch sprint undid the frsutartion of last year's result for the Manxman. Speaking seconds after the stage finish, the winner said: “I can't fault anyone in the team. If I'd lost it would have been only my fault. It was the same finish as last year and I was only third then, with us having made some mistakes. We went through what we did wrong last year, tried to do the complete opposite and that's what happened.”
The 189km Emirates Motor Company stage out of and back to Madinat Zayed had been saw a six-man breakaway take centre stage, earning Manuele Mori leadership of the Intermediate Sprint competition and the Etihad Airways Black Jersey. A series of crashes in the final five kilometres held up pre-race favourite, Alberto Contador, and put thwarted and any hopes of winning for Marcel Kittel and Caleb Ewan. Ewan was sent for medical treatment but fortunatley x-rays confirmed no breaks clearing the Australian to start Stage two..
Speaking seconds after the stage finish, the winner said: “I can't fault anyone in the team. If I'd lost it would have been only my fault. It was the same finish as last year and I was only third then, with us having made some mistakes. We went through what we did wrong last year, tried to do the complete opposite and that's what happened.”
Continuing at the press conference later Cavendish explained, "Today we did our tactical homework. We studied the finale from this stage last year. We did it all wrong last year. We really studied last year and we did the opposite. In the end it went exactly as we planned in team meeting. I didn't really have to do anything.
"The whole race will 100% be decided on Jebel Hafeet, as it always has been. There are too many sprinters' teams here to let a break go and gain a lot of time."
"I get the biggest boost today from the fact that my team didn't do anything wrong. I'd be grovelling for an apology if I hadn't won today. It's special to win here and get the Red Jersey. It was a goal but I'm most happy with how the team rode.
"Tomorrow will be great. Abu Dhabi is an incredible city and going past the Grand Mosque will be incredible. Last year when we rode by the Grand Mosque there could have been a crash in the peloton. Everyone was just looking at it open-mouthed. It's one of the most incredible things you'll ever see. Having won the stage at Al Marina last year, I'd love to repeat that this year.
"The biggest difference I've noticed here this year with the race now in the WorldTour is the speed, the standard of riders. It's maybe the best total field you'll find outside Grand Tours, and it's maybe even better than some Grand Tours. You've got the best climbers and the best sprinters. It's also a bit safer because you've got the big teams who know what they're doing. It's a lot more organised and less chaotic than some small races.
"I knew someone would go early in the sprint. I thought it would be Greipel but it didn't really matter who it was. Someone else attacked and it was a case of using them as a slingshot. I just had to follow Mark Renshaw."
1 - Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data) 189km in 4h37’06”, av speed 40.923km/h
2 - Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) s.t.
3 - Niccolò Bonifazio (Bahrain - Merida) s.t.
The Red Jersey, sponsored by the Al Maryah Island (General individual classification by time) - Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data)
The Green Jersey, sponsored by Nation Towers (General individual classification by points) - Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data)
The White Jersey, sponsored by Abu Dhabi Sports Channel (Best Young Rider born after 1 January 1992) - Niccolò Bonifazio (Bahrain - Merida)
The Black Jersey, sponsored by Etihad Airways (Intermediate Sprint Jersey Classification) - Manuele Mori (UAE Abu Dhabi)
1 - Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data)
2 - Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) at 4"
3 - Niccolò Bonifazio (Bahrain - Merida) at 6"
Final Results in Full