Welcome to our live coverage of stage 2 of the Abu Dhabi Tour 2017.
Today’s stage 2 is another one for the sprinters. As our race preview says, “The second stage takes place in the city of Abu Dhabi, starting on the Al Maryah island before heading along the corniche and back around in an anti-clockwise direction. With the stage taking place on wide boulevards and not a hill in sight, it’s another one for the sprinters.”
The biggest issue coming out of yesterdays stage is, of course, disc brakes. Was Owen Doull (Sky) injured and his shoe slit by Marcel Kittel’s disc brakes in yesterday’s 1km crash, or was there another cause? At any rate, Kittel is not using the disc brakes today, out of solidarity with his felllow riders.
While much of today’s course is within the city, it does go out in the desert as well, with the possiblity of wind and echelons.
The stage is underway!
Before we get into a look at the brake issue, we give you a reminder that Mark Cavendish outsprinted Andre Greipel to win the stage for his first win of the season. You can read about it here.
No sooner has the neutralized section been finished and the flag dropped, than the attacks begin!
It looks like six riders have gotten away or at least are trying to establish a group.
The top five in GC coming in today’s stage:
1 Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) 4:36.56
2 Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) +0:04
3 Manuele Mori (UAE Team Emirates)
4 Niccolo Bonifazio (Bahrain Merida) +0:06
5 Mirco Maestri (Bardiani) +0:08
144km remaining from 155km
The group of six now has about two minutes. And the group consists of: Nicola Boem (Bardiani), Alessandro De Marchi (BMC), Kirill Sveshnikov (Gazprom Rusvelo), Marco Canoli (Nippo Vini Fantini), Fabio Calabria (Novo Nordisk) and Kristijan Durasek (UAE Team Emirates)
Cavendish also leads the points ranking, Bonifazio is best young rider, Mori has the led in the intermediate sprints classification and Dimension Data tops the team rankings.
In response, Kittel said that he would not use the disc brake today "out of respect for my colleagues because I understand the safety issues."
133km remaining from 155km
The gap is holding steady at just under two minutes.
There was a lot of debate, however, as to what actually caused that damage. The UCI refused to place blame, saying it was gathering evidence to figure out what happened.
127km remaining from 155km
The field is really keeping this group on a short line. The gap is only 1:37.
Sveshnikov, who is in the break group, can only improve his rankings today. He is currently in last place overall, at 3:05 down.
It should also be noted that Kittel was using a disc brake with a rounded edge, not a sharp edge.
Before the race even started, the CPA (riders associaton) called on the UCI to ban the disc brakes.
Chris Froome has called on the CPA and the UCI to resolve the safety concerns of disc brakes. "The issue over disc brakes is really down to what the CPA are doing and how they've not represented the peloton's views properly," Froome told Cyclingnews.
The gap has jumped all the way to 2:18 now, with 113 km to go.
And we see a lovely textbook echelon as the peloton rides on a long bridge.
One might think that the UCI and the CPA are not the best of friends. The UCI replied to the CPA's complaints about the disc brakes by telling them to "respect the democratic process".
Kittel said that he had been trying out the disc brake becuase he wanted to and not because of pressure from sponsors or his team. “I don’t get paid to ride disc brakes, my colleagues said that as a joke. I’m also not here to drive the market for disc brakes,” Kittel said.
The big German sprinter also hit the road, a la Superman, in the crash yesterday. He said he is ok and that no one was to blame for the crash.
The race is out of the city and into the desert. So far we have not seen any real effects of any wind.
Quite the sprint amongst the break group for the intermediate sprint, with the honours going to Canola.
In all the brakes discusssion, it is overlooked that Mark Cavendish had his first win of the season, beating none other than Andre Greipel. The Manxman was quick to praise his Dimension Data teammates for their great work.
95km to go with a narrow gap of 2:02.
That Kittel-Doull crash (in which other riders were involved) at the 1 km marker was not the only one on the stage, nor the only one with a controversy attached. Trek Segafredo's Alberto Contador and Bauke Mollema both crashed with about five km left, and they blamed the sprinters' teams for some dangerous riding.
91km remaining from 155km
With 91km to go, the gap is down again to 1:40, after getting up to about 2:15
Want to catch up quickly on yesterday's stage? Check out this highlights video.
Lotto is doing its share of duty at the head of the peoton. They don't intend for Greipel to be beaten again today.
DiData, Lotto Soudal and AG2R all at the front of the chasing peloton, with the gap at 1:25 with 80 km to go.
Sky's Owain Doull must wonder if his pro career is jinxed. He was supposed to start the season (and his pro career) at the Tour Down Under, Cadel Evans Race and the Herald Sun Tour. However, a burst appendix put an end to that plan. He finally made his debut here in Abu Dhabi, only to have a controversy-fulled crash in stage one.
Pro cycling in the '90s was known for many things. Including doping. Colombian Alvaro Mejia, who had a breakthrough year at the 1993 Tour de France, says, "I would have liked to have raced in a clean era."
Despite the number of races we have already experienced this year, there are a number of cycling fans who are convinced the season only really starts with the Classics. And the Spring Classic season starts tomorrow, with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad followed by Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne on Sunday. Take a listen to our preview of these two exciting races.
No real change in the race situation. Lotto and DiData up front, 2:11 and 63 km.
The womens' Classics Season is opening tomorrow as well, as they also take on the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Read our race preview here.
The break group enters the feed zone and we wish them "Guten Appetit".
Here's a look at Kittel's bike for today.
Another enthusiastic sprint for the second intermediate sprint, with Canola once again claiming the points and the time bonuses.
With 48 km to go, the gap is now at 1:22.
The gap is now under a minute, at 56 seconds. They seem to be expecting some wind again.
The race's two top sprinters had a chat before the stage started.
We certainly can't complain about narrow roads at the moment. Looks like the lead group has 6 lanes or so.
The peloton is relatively compact at this point.
The gap is really yo-yoing around here, from 50 seconds to 1:30
Kittel has punctured and is 30 seconds behind the peloton.
He is working his way up through the team cars and has now caught up with two teammates who fell back to help. A Lotto rider tags along and they are now all back at the peloton.
The speed has picked up noticably here, with the fear of wind and echelons.
The field is taking advantage of the wide road to spread out a bit.
There is still a one-minute gap, but on these flat straight roads, the peloton can already see the lead group,.
Less than 20 km and with open desert landscape surrounding them, the teams are gathering their riders together.
The gap is coming down nicely, 38 seconds and 17 km.
Dark clouds have moved in and we see rain drops! We are not sure we want to see a mass sprint on a wet road....
Before we get caught up in the closing sprint, here's another reminder of our Omloop and Kuurne preview.
Cavendish riding rather casually near the back of the field. 10.7 km and only 10 seconds.
The lead group has finally started to look back and see the rapidly approaching peloton.
The break group finally falls apart, with only Di Marchi and Canola up front.
The two fight on bravely, with 8.5km to go.
Right now they are on a wide road. Let's hope we don't get more narrow roads or narrowed areas like yesterday.
Still 10 seconds for the two leaders, with 4 km.
Less than 3 km now, so the GC riders can take it a bit easier.
The break is ended and the race is in the hands of the sprint teams.
Still a mixed group at the front, but Di Data ha moved up.
Dimension Data set everything up ready to deliver Cavendish to the line. But Caleb Ewan and Kittel came up and he was unable to match their speed.
Ewan started to celebrate as he crossed the line, but it was Kittel in the end, by 10 cm or so.
The photo finish shows Kittel ahead of Ewan and Cavendish.
Kittel probably had extra motivation to win today, having missed out on yesterday's sprint due to the crash.
Greipel, a close second yesterday, barely made it into the top ten today.
"A beaitful moment," Kittel says.
Yesterday Phil Bauhaus of Sunweb was caught up in the 1 km crash, and had to go to hospital to make sure his hand was ok. It must have been fie, as he sprinted to fifth place today.
We are happy to report that the wind didn't play a role today and there were no crashes.
Kittel really did come up at the very last second to take that win ahead of Ewan.
Cavendish retains the overall lead, with Kittel second at 6 seconds and Greipel third at 8 seconds.
That GC will see a massive change tomorrow, as the course heads up into the mountains.
Did Ewan cost himself the victory by celebrating too soon? Or would Kittel have powered himself into the lead anyway?
The desert races are good to Kittel this year. He won three stages and the GC in the Dubai Tour, and now he takes season victory nr. 5 in Abu Dhabi. That puts him one ahead of Ewan, who also came into this race with four win on the year.
Top ten Stage 2 # 1 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Quick-Step Floors 2 Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica-Scott 3 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data 4 Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe 5 Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Team Sunweb 6 Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky 7 Andrea Guardini (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 8 Eduard Michael Grosu (Rou) Nippo - Vini Fantini 9 Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal 10 Alexander Porsev (Rus) Gazprom - Rusvelo
Sorry about that, let's try again.
Stage top ten:
1 Marcel Kittel (QuickStep Floors)
2 Caleb Ewan (Orica Scott)
3 Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data)
4 Matteo Pelucchi (Bora Hansgrohe)
5 Phil Bauhaus (Sunweb)
6 Elia Viviani (Team Sky)
7 Andrea Guardini (UAE Team Emirates)
8 Eduard Michael Grosu (Nippo Vini Fantini)
9 Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal)
10 Alexander Porsey (Gazprom Rusvelo)
And now the GC top ten:
1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data 8:05:03
2 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:04
3 Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal 0:00:08
4 Marco Canola (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini st
5 Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica-Scott
6 Manuele Mori (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
7 Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:00:10
8 Fabio Calabria (Aus) Team Novo Nordisk 0:00:11
9 Mirco Maestri (Ita) Bardiani CSF 0:00:12
10 Kazushige Kuboki (Jpn) Nippo - Vini Fantini
This is how close it was today.
After the stage, Kittel said “I think this is a very beautiful moment. Yesterday we lost not only the stage victory but also some skin... Today I had another chance, I was very motivated and I'm very happy now.”
Kittel continued, “Our plan was to come at the last moment to the front, I think we did it vey well, almost too late... I was in the wheel which was a real advantage, because all the sprinters were alone and I had to jump from wheel to wheel. On the right there was the best probability to jump to the front and when I saw it I went all in. I could see I was going faster than the rest but I was not sure if that was enough to cross the line first. Very nice to win like that.”
Stage 2 race highlights video. See it here!
That's it for today. Be sure to join us a fun- and action-filled weekend. We will have live reports for Abu Dahbii both days, as well as Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, of course.
Catch you then!
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