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Abu Dhabi Tour 2018: Stage 1

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Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the Abu Dhabi Tour. 

As we join the action the are 138km left to race. We have a break of five riders, with the peloton lined out in pursuit, 3:20 behind.

The big news of the day is obviously the crash and subsequent abandon of Mark Cavendish. 

He went down in the neutralised section of the race, got going again bu then was forced to retire. His Dimension Data said he crashed on the same shoulder he fractured during the 2017 Tour de France, when he crashed with Peter Sagan.

133km remaining from 189km

All five sprint hard and are spread across the road.

Nikolay Trusov (Gazprom) is declared the winner but it was close.

The five riders in the break now grab bottles from their soigneur but quickly push on.

The peloton rolls through the feed zone and riders grab bottles, as the gaps falls slightly to 2:50. 

Several teams are sharing the work on the front of the peloton to ensure the stage ends in a sprint. 

To read more about Mark Cavendish's crash, click here. 

This image from the race organisers shows Cavendish climbing into a Dimension Data car after he was forced to quit the race.

122km remaining from 189km

The race is currently covering an out and back loop close via Liwa and the spectacular sand dunes.

116km remaining from 189km

The riders have the huge sand dunes in front of them now. There is also a slight breeze blowing from their left, forcing a mass echelon across the road as riders look for protection on the wheels.  

111km remaining from 189km

While we wait for the race to explode, why not catch up on other news on Cyclingnews.

105km remaining from 189km

This is the map of today's stage. The riders are still in the rolling sand dunes section of the stage.

Italian national champion Fabio Aru drops back to the team car. 

95km remaining from 189km

It's lunch time in the race as riders pass through the feed zone and grab musettes. The stage is 189km long and so the feed zone is a chance to grab cold bottles and some solid food.   

The peloton feeds as the road rises slightly. It's slightly chaotic but organised. 

It seems that everyone made it through the feed safely, though some riders still have their musette over their shoulders as they ride at speed on a slight descent.

85km remaining from 189km

The big name sprinters include Elia Viviani (Quick-Step), Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott), André Greipel (Lotto Soudal), Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) and Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates).

Front wheel flat for Pierre Rolland of EF-Drapac. 

He gets a quick wheel change and starts to chase in the line of team cars.

He should have no problem getting back into the peloton. He carefully slipstreams behind the team cars as he closes the gap.

Other riders are also coming back up after collecting bidons for their teammates.

Riders from Quick-Step Floors, Mitchelton-Scott and Lotto Soudal are now sharing the work of chasing the break. 

The sand dunes south of Liwa are known as the Empty Quarter of the UAE.  

70km remaining from 189km

Up front Nikolay Trusov (Gazprom-Rusvelo), Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing Team),Vincenzo Albanese (Bardiani CSF), Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo) and Charles Planet (Team Novo Nordisk) are riding steady and smoothly to try to hold their lead and save their energy for any late attacks and surges in speed.

The wins is forecast to blow at 15km/h from the NNW. When the riders turn onto to straight roads for the final 45km it could become a factor. 

64km remaining from 189km

The road rises slightly now in the dunes, in the approach to the sprint.

Crash!

A touch of wheels sees several riders go down.

They include Minali of Astana, whole other riders rode into the sand at the side of the road. 

Up front Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo) has kicked off the sprint by making an strong surge. 

He's going flat out to stay away. If he takes maximum points he will wear the special black jersey on stage 2.

Skujins reaches the red arch first and takes the 8 points. 

58km remaining from 189km

Svein Tuft is doing the hard work on the front for Mitchelton-Scott. He is working to protect Caleb Ewan's chances in the sprint. 

At the sprint arch, the peloton is timed at 2:50. 

The gap to the break has fallen to 2:00 thanks to the work of the 'breakaway' chasers. However the peloton is relaxed as they flow along in the slipstream. 

We can see big-name overall contenders such as Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb), Rohan Dennis (BMC), Rafa Majka (Bora) and Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates) in the peloton.

The race is now on the long, straight road back to Madinat Zayed.

The only corners left in the stage come in the final 2km with a right and ten left turn leading to the finish. 

50km remaining from 189km

This has been the landscape for much of the stage. Now the pursuit of the break is on.

Our race photographers also captured the moment Mark Cavendish crashed. 

47km remaining from 189km

Young British rider James Knox has been given the job of helping the chase for Quick-Step Floors.

Upfront Skujins decides his time in the break is done and eases up. He will probably still help out Trek-Segfredo in the finale.

39km remaining from 189km

As the sun begins to fade and the shadows become longer out on the road, the peloton can see the break up the road. The four are just 400m ahead now. 

Albanese takes a final bidon from the Bardiani team car and gets some final instructions from his DS. 

This a real cat and mouse situation, with the peloton easing up so as not to catch the break too early.

33km remaining from 189km

30km remaining from 189km

Behind the peloton some riders are dropping back to the team cars to collect a final set of bidons before race judges 'close the bar' with 20km to go.

The headwind on the road back to Madinat Zayed has cracked the break now. 

Trusov and Albanese slip back to the peloton. Their time out front is done. 

Now Caruso and Planet have upped the pace. 

25km remaining from 189km

However Caruso and Planet have upped their pace.

All the other teams are lined out behind the three on the front as the straight road dips and rolls. 

Behind Tuft arches his back and puts down some big watts as he does a long turn on the front of the peloton. 

20km remaining from 189km

It was a big day put for Charles Planet, all the Novo Nordisk riders have diabetes but he showed his ability as a rider. 

Caruso is pushing on alone. He is tucked over his bars in an aero position as he tries to hold off the peloton. 

17km remaining from 189km

15km remaining from 189km

The races passes the Shams solar power station. It is apparently one of the world’s largest, with a capacity of 100 megawatts covering an area of over 2.5km2. 

We can expected some big watts to be produced during the sprint finish very soon. 

13km remaining from 189km

10km remaining from 189km

The fast finish also seems perfect for Quick-Step Floors and Elia Viviani.

10km remaining from 189km

Teams are in formation near the head of the peloton but the speed is steady. 

We expect a surge in speed and fight to lead into the two turns in the final 3km. Position will be vital for the left and then right turns that lead to the finish.

Previous winners include Mark Cavendish and Giacomo Nizzolo. 

The Dimension Data team has confirmed that Cavendish suffered concussion and whiplash in his crash.

7km remaining from 189km

Movistar is in the middle of the road, as is Gazprom.

6km remaining from 189km

The riders are packed tight now. It will be dififcult to move up.   

Team Sunweb is near the front. They're riding for Nikias Ardnt and to protect Tom Dumoulin.

4km remaining from 189km

But so do Sunweb.

AG2R are up front. 

It's a race to the corner.

LottoNL-Jumbo up the pace on the left of the road.

3km remaining from 189km

They swing right at speed. Everyone is safe but next is the left turn into the finish.

2km remaining from 189km

Mitchelton are leading out Ewan.

1km remaining from 189km

It's Quick Step V Mitchelton

Quick Step lead out Viviani.

Kristoff takes it! 

The UAE Team Emirates rider hit out early from the pack but had the speed to hold off Viviani who took his own line up the left after his lead out.  

Kristoff seemed blocked in with 500m to go but as Quick-Step switched to sides, the road opened for him. He got on Ewan's wheel and then opened up his long sprint.

Viviani tried to get his wheel but was beaten. 

Andrea Guardini (Bardiani-CSF) came up along the barriers but could only finish second as Kristoff celebrated.

Viviani was fourth and Britain's Dan McLay (EF-Drapac) fifth. 

It seems there was also a slight head wind in the finishing straight and so coming off the wheels was the right tactic. 

Kristoff admitted that he lost his lead out train but picked the right line and had the power to move up through the pack of other sprinters.

"In the final I lost my rhythm and I lost [lead-out man Roberto] Ferrari, but then I found Caleb Ewan in the end and I know he’s fast. He started to really go for the sprint but I was in the draft and then managed to come round and hold on in the headwind all the way to the line," Kristoff said.

Kristoff was happy to win in the UAE after joining the team for 2018.

This is a road-side shot of the finish, with Kristoff coming down the middle of the road.

Kristoff is happy to have won in the UAE.

Kristoff explained to Cyclingnews that he is riding a a 'fake February Grand Tour' by combining the Dubai Tour, the Tour of Oman and the Abu Dhabi Tour.  

This is the top ten for the stage: 

Thanks to winning the first stage Kristoff also pulls on the race leader's red jersey and will wear it on stage 2.

This is the general classification after stage 1. Thanks to time bonuses of 3-2-1 seconds, the five break away riders also feature in the top ten overall.

Kristoff also pulled on the green points jersey. Ewan took the best young rider's white jersey, while Trusov took the intermediate sprints black jersey.

This image captures the moment Kristoff hits the line first.

Here is Kristoff in the leader's red jersey.

Sadly the stage also saw Mark Cavendish crash in the neutralised section of the stage and then retire due to injury. He suffered concussion and whiplash according to his Dimension Data team. 

Kristoff was very happy to have taken his second victory of the season.   

Stage 2 of the Abu Dhabi Tour on Thursday is from Yas Mall to Yas Island. The 154km stage covers a twisting around the north of down town Abu Dhabi.

Stage 2 is another day for the sprinters because the stage profile is pan flat.

Thanks for joining us for live coverage of stage 1 of the Abu Dhabi Tour. Join us tomorrow for more live coverage. 

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