Elia Viviani was hoping to celebrate his 29th birthday a day early with victory in the stage 1 sprint at the Dubai Tour. His Quick-Step Floors team gave him an excellent lead-out but he was beaten by Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo), who got the jump on the Italian and pinned him close to the barriers all the way to the line.
"I made a mistake. Groenewegen went early and he was very clever in the way he kept me on the barriers," Viviani admitted that he would shoulder the blame for defeat.
"It was 90 per cent my fault. I messed it up."
Viviani won the curving, windswept finish on the Palm Jumeirah in 2015 and 2016. He wanted a third victory to pay back Quick-Step Floors for their hard work during the finale and sprint lead-out, but he was unable to finish things off.
"The guys did a great job, they were really strong and showed it by taking the front with three kilometres remaining and marshalling the peloton," Viviani said, explaining their tactics for the sprint.
"We tried to stay on the right to be protected by the crosswinds, we followed our plan and I had good legs. Sabatini went at 350 metres to drop me off close to the finish, as I wanted. But Groenewegen went first. I got it wrong. In hindsight, I could have gone on the left side (when Groenewegen jumped early) but it's the kind of decision you take in a second."
Viviani has contested six sprints with Quick-Step Floors so far this season, winning a stage at the Tour Down Under, taking second at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and four other placings in the top six.
He knows that he missed out on a great chance to improve his strike rate but hopes to bounce back and fight again on stage 2 when the finish in Ras al Khaimah follows a similar curving road to the line.
"I'm disappointed that I couldn't repay the team with a victory, but we will try again tomorrow," he promised.