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Abu Dhabi Tour 2018: Stage 2

Good morning and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of stage 2 of the Abu Dhabi Tour. 

 

It's named the 'Yas Island stage' and it's a 148km route starting at the Yas Mall and finishing by the Yas beach. Like yesterday, it's pan flat.

As we pick up the action, just under 60 kilometres remain. We have a five-man break with a lead of two minutes. 

 

In the break are:


Joey Rosskopf (BMC Racing)

Jaco Venter (Dimension Data)

Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani CSF)

Alexander Porsev (Gazprom-RusVelo)

Charles Planet (Novo Nordisk)

 

The break are approaching an intermediate sprint...

 

Tonelli sprints clear from range, but no one's minded to go with him. The Italian mops up the points with ease. 

 

50km remaining from 154km

The gap to the break has come tumbling down as the riders head through the feed zone. Just 30 seconds separates the two groups on the road now.

 

Rosskopf looks round and can see the advancing peloton. It looks like the catch is imminent as Alex Dowsett works for Marcel KIttel's Katusha-Alpecin team. Alejandro Valverde and his Movistar men also up towards the front. 

 

And there's your reason for the big increase in pace. The riders have turned into a section of crosswinds and the race is well and truly on.

 

Groups of riders losing contact here as the peloton fragments into echelons.

 

These crosswinds are doing real damage.

 

Kristoff caught out

 

Stage 1 winner and overall leader Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) has been distanced here. He's in the second group on the road.

 

Andre Greipel and Caleb Ewan are both in the front group and working hard to not let Kristoff et al back into the mix.

 

Kristoff looks miserable in there, with no teammates for support. Fabio Aru is up the road in the front group but he's a favourite for the overall title and won't be dropping back.  

 

Movistar have three men in the front group, including Valverde, and they're taking control.

 

38km remaining from 154km

30 seconds is the gap between the front group and the Kristoff group.

 

Katusha have done well. They've got their sprinter Kittel and GC man Ilnur Zakarin in the front group, with Dowsett there for support.

 

Sunweb, AG2R, and Kristoff doing the chasing in group two. They're outnumbered.

 

34km remaining from 154km

There has been a regrouping between the second and third groups on the road. 

 

So we've got a front group of around 25 out front and a group of around 50 chasing behind, 25 seconds in arrears.

 

Kristoff now has teammates but he's still up there doing turns himself.

 

The race leader finds help from Quick-Step, with Elia Viviani also missing out on that split. Quick-Step have Julian Alaphilippe up the road with Enric Mas, and therefore have something of a dilemma, but they appear to be chasing now. 

 

127km remaining from 154km

The gap is holding firm at 30 seconds.

 

We have what is almost a complete list of riders in the front group, over on the right hand side of your screen.

 

23km remaining from 154km

The gap is nudging down. 20 seconds now.

 

The latest episode of the Cyclingnews Podcast is out now. We round-up all the recent racing and hear from Richie Porte, Chris Froome, Bradley Wiggins and others. 

 

Porte, Froome and Kwiatkowski round-up at European openers - Podcast

 

As we come through an irrelevant intermediate sprint point, the race is coming back together. 10 seconds the gap now.

 

The wind's not blowing from the side anymore, and the front group know it's over.

 

All together. There's finally a let-up in the pace as the red jersey group comes back to the front of the race.

 

The fragments that were knocked off that chasing pack are also able to get back in.

 

16km remaining from 154km

Movistar lead the way with 16km remaining.

 

A reminder of how things played out yesterday

 

Abu Dhabi Tour: Kristoff wins opening stage

 

And a reminder that Mark Cavendish is out of the race. He crashed in the neutral zone yesterday and suffered concussion and whiplash. 

 

Bizarrely, the crash was caused by the race director's car, whose brakes were triggered by automatic sensors with the riders right behind. 

 

Here are the details

 

It's a similar scene to yesterday as British neo-pro climber James Knox is put on the front for Quick-Step. It's a familiar format as we head into the last 10km and towards a bunch sprint but, unlike yesterday, that was an action-packed hour of racing.

8km remaining from 154km

Still Knox on the front, Team Sky just behind. We'll see things really intensify in the final few kilometres. 

 

Kristoff is down at the back of the bunch at the moment. He did plenty of frantic turns in those crosswinds - will he have enough left in the tank for the sprint finish?

 

Into the final 5km and Katusha take it up

 

Quick-Step and LottoNL set up on the left hand side of the road

 

3km remaining from 154km

Inside the safety net of the 3km to go banner. The GC men can breathe a little easier.

 

2km to go and Katusha have fragmented. LottoNL looking strong on the other side of the road

 

Alaphilippe sprints through the flamme rouge taking it up for Quick-Step

 

Thee bunch splits. It's strung out on the approach to the final few hundred metres

 

Van Poppel opens...

 

Here comes Viviani though

 

 

Viviani takes it!

Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) wins stage 2 of the Abu Dhabi Tour

 

Danny Van Poppel (LottoNL-Jumbo) finished second, Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) third, but Viviani was a convincing winner.

 

Viviani's Quick-Step teammates came to the fore when it mattered. The Italian was actually on the wheel of Van Poppel and produced a searing sprint to leave the others in his wake.

 

Kristoffer Halvorsen (Team Sky), Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott), and Alexander Kristoff (UAE) were coming back but started too far back. 

 

Top 10

 

1 Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors
2 Danny van Poppel (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
3 Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
4 Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Team Sky
5 Caleb Ewan (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
6 Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Team Sunweb
7 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
8 Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
9 Rudy Barbier (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
10 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Dimension Data

 

General Classification after stage 2

 

1 Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors 8:03:44
2 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
3 Danny van Poppel (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 0:00:04
4 Andrea Guardini (Ita) Bardiani CSF
5 Caleb Ewan (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott 0:00:06
6 Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
7 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:07
8 Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo
9 Alessandro Tonelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF
10 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Dimension Data 0:00:08

 

Elia Viviani, then, takes the red jersey of overall leader. He's about to be presented on the podium.

 

Viviani says in his post-race interview that he told his team to work for him and set up the sprint, instead of driving the front echelon with Alaphilippe and Mas. He's fully justified that.

 

Tom Dumoulin is in the medical truck after crashing earlier, but it only seems to be precautionary.

 

That's Viviani's fourth sprint victory of the season, after a win at Tour Down Under and a brace in Dubai. It's five wins if you count the overall title in Dubai, meaning he's over half-way to his 2017 tally already. 

 

Here's our stage report

 

Abu Dhab Touri: Viviani wins stage 2 and takes race lead
 

 

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