A rather brief day in the saddle forms Stage 2 of this year’s Abu Dhabi Tour, based in and around the emirate’s capital city and offering almost nothing in regards to elevation. Once again the roads are wide tarmac boulevards which provide a breakaway no hope of surviving life outside of the main bunch right the way to the finish. The usual array of city based furniture populates the day’s course, with the finale itself simplified yet further still as the finishing straight widens once again to give the sprinters an ideal platform to strut their stuff.
Mark Cavendish is not willing to wallow in the result of Doha last weekend and was not far from winning the first stage of this year’s Abu Dhabi Tour as he seeks to return to the top step of the podium. His leadout worked well, though inadvertently provided Giacomo Nizzolo the perfect support to launch himself to victory and confirm the Italian’s form right now. Cavendish tends not to make mistakes more than once and it is easy to see him remedying yesterday’ result at the first time of asking.
Giacomo Nizzolo seems to have benefited from a relatively light race schedule since May’s Giro d’Italia and is now riding an encouraging wave of form off the back of last weekend’s World Championships in Doha. Despite lacking a brilliant leadout, he weaved his way through the maelstrom and ultimately took advantage of the Dimension-Data train to deliver himself into the perfect position to take the win. His performance was dominant by the time second place John Degenkolb crossed the line and it now looks like Nizzolo will be a tough man to beat in Abu Dhabi.
John Degenkolb has managed to bring with him a strong sprint focused team, despite squads being limited to only six riders at this race. The German rider is hoping to salvage some wins from a year marred by an early season traffic collision which caused serious damage and kept him off the bike for sometime. Degenkolb’s progress has been very encouraging in the late season and there looks to be momentum pushing him onwards to his best form; there shall be no surprise if he wins here.
André Greipel was absent from yesterday’s sprint for reasons still unknown, thus making it tough to know exactly where he stands heading into the second stage. His team Lotto-Soudal were working on the front of the peloton during the day, so it would seem that some sort of mechanical is responsible for his inability to contest the finale. Without knowing any details it is rsiky to back him, but if he is 100% to contest stage honours, then he should win this finish which favours power based sprinters.
Magnus Cort Nielsen confirmed expectations yesterday and only just missed out on a top three placing after surfing the wheels efficiently enough to place him in contention. If Orica-BikeExchange can provide better support for the young sprinter during the final kilometre, then Nielsen has a great chance of winning on Stage 2.
Andrea Guardini and Elia Viviani were both disappointing on the opening stage, each finishing outside the top ten on a finish which would normally see their names inside the top five placings. After such a poor start to their race, these Italian sprinters shall each be wanting to be amongst the frontrunners once again as soon as possible.
1st John Degenkolb 2nd Mark Cavendish 3rd Giacomo Nizzolo