Stage 3 of the Abu Dhabi Tour is another one for the sprinters. Follow the coverage with us at Cyclingnews.
Welcome to stage 3 of the Abu Dhabi Tour. The sprinters will want to grab their last chance today.
WE have a group away already: M. Maronese (BRD), S. Firsanov (GAZ), Pierre Rolland (EF-Education First) and S. Brand (TNN). Not sure of the kms at this point, but their gap is 2:20.
Elia Viviani of Quick-Step Floors charged as first to the finish line in the Stage 2 bunch sprint. He not only won the stage but took the overall lead as well.
Don't forget to check out our race preview.
Here is our top five after yesterday’s stage:
1 Elia Viviani (Quick-Step) 8:03:44
2 Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates
3 Danny van Poppel (LottoNL-Jumbo) 0:00:04
4 Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) 0:00:06
5 Pascal Ackermann (Bora-hansgrohe)
As you can see, Viviani (winner stage 2) and KRistoff (winner stage 1) are equal on time. Viviani gets the nod since he finished 4th on stage 1, while Kristoff was only seventh yesterday.
Maronese has taken the first intermediate sprint. With about 80 km to go on this short stage, the field has brought the gap down to just under 2:00.
86km remaining from 133km
The gap is now at 1:45.
Viviani leads the point ranking, ahead of Kristoff and van Poppel.
In a separate ranking, Nikolay Trusov (Gazprom-Rusvelo) leads the sprint competition.
Van Poppel is so far best young rider, and Quick Step the top team.
And no, there is no mountain ranking at all so far.
It's Sadhbh O'Shea taking over today's live coverage and bringing you right up to the finale at the aptly named Big Flag.
Alexander Kristoff won the opening stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour, after closing out the Tour of Oman with a stage win. The Norwegian is looking for another early-season win but he says that he's not feeling great today after picking up a bug.
""For sure I will try to win. Actually, I picked up a small illness. I got a cold last night and I don’t feel super today," he said, adding that the latter part of the day could see plenty of action.
"No there isn’t wind but looking at the forecast it and it should pick up so I think that we will see a little more of what we saw yesterday."
The peloton is looking pretty relaxed at the moment and there's no sign of those winds just yet. They're keeping the escapees close by though, just in case, with the gap bouncing around between 1:20 and 1:30 with 63km to go. That means that there's plenty of time to listen to the latest Cyclingnews Podcast before the finish. You can listen to it here as you follow our live coverage.
Gazprom Rusvelo doing a shift on the front of the peloton. They are putting a dent in the leader's advantage, despite having a rider in the break, as they would like to mop up some more sprint points for Trusov.
Michal Kwiatkowski is not here in Abu Dhabi but he was in action last week, enjoying a very successful stint in the Volta ao Algarve. The Polish rider told Cyclingnews that despite winning the overall, he's still focusing on one-day racing.
Tom Dumoulin is sitting in the middle of the bunch with some strapping around his elbow. The Dutchman had a bit of a fall yesterday and was out of position when the winds came. His GC hopes are still there, but it was a bit of a scare for him yesterday. Read the full story here.
55km remaining from 133km
This effort by Gazprom has cut the advantage of the leaders down to a measly 18 seconds so the escapees have started to attack each other. Brand had a go but was quickly taken back. Rolland has now taken a flyer up the road.
Brand is leading the chase from behind Rolland but the three chasers look resigned to being caught by the bunch with more than 50km to go.
With just three kilometres to the intermediate sprint, the bunch have brought back Maronese, Firsanov and Brand. Rolland is still out on his own with a 16-second gap.
53km remaining from 133km
Well, that gap disappeared like your keys down the back of the couch. Rolland has been brought back and it is gruppo compatto with 53km to go.
Gazprom has slipped back a few places in the peloton and Bardiani have taken control. Guardini had a good sprint on day 1 and will be looking for something more today.
As we head into the sprint, there is a lot of jostling for position. Viviani is given a lead-out and takes the bonus seconds with one of the Bahrain-Merida riders coming up behind him to take second. After all of that, Gazprom come away empty handed.
@Cyclingnewsfeed Fri, 23rd Feb 2018 11:30:24
48km remaining from 133km
The bunch is passing by Masdar City with 48km to go. After the flurry of action in the build up to the sprint, it is flat across the front of the bunch. Let's hope the winds do come or we could be in for a long day.
Confirmation of the sprint results have Viviani mopping up the points for first place, Bonifazio was in second and Barbier got the last points available in third place.
Thank goodness for that, the peloton has sprung into life with several teams putting in a concerted effort on the front. EF Education First, Astana, Quick-Step and several others are driving a hard pace and the bunch has split into two.
It's not yet clear if any of the sprinters have missed the cut but there are about 20-30 riders off the back. The chase is frantic and there has been a crash.
It looks like Kristoff came down on a round about. He's not too happy with the situation.
There are a few tears to Kristoff's jersey on the right side but he doesn't look too hurt. He appeared to be in the front group when the accident happened on a tight turn into a roundabout.
He's almost back up to the peloton as the pace slows a little and he's got a teammate back to help him back up to the front.
He's in discussion with his team car. An allen key comes out to make a small adjustment but nothing major. With 41km to go, there has been a hiatus in hostilities.
Away from the racing, one of the big news stories today is that Juan Jose Lobato has signed for Nippo Vini Fantini. He was sacked from LottoNL-Jumbo over the winter after unauthorised use of a sleeping medication but said a few weeks ago that he intended on making a comeback. Read the full story here.
Quick-Step Floors are now managing the pace on the front of the peloton with the bright pink of EF Education First-Drapac close by.
EF Education First have Dan McLay in their line-up in Abu Dhabi. The Brit was well out of contention yesterday but took fifth on the opening stage.
Meanwhile, Alexander Kristoff is back up near the front of the peloton. He doesn't seem to banged up but a crash is not ideal for the Norwegian, particularly if e was already feeling a bit rough.
Movistar is also heavily present at the front of the bunch with Jasha Sutterlin helping to set the pace. They've got Bennati and Rojas for the sprints but they'll be more inclined to try and keep their GC riders safe for the coming days.
27km remaining from 133km
The riders are passing along the sea front, but there is not yet any sign of the proposed winds. The peloton going back to a very relaxed mode with just under 30km to go.
Bradley Wiggins launched his team for the 2018 season with their new-look kit. The former rider said that his Continental outfit was 'detached' from the negativity in cycling. He also said that he would 'have his say' soon. Read the full story here.
While you're at it, why not click here and take a look at our gallery of Vincenzo Nibali's Merida Scultura. The Italian was riding it in Oman last week.
20km remaining from 133km
The speed has certainly picked up in the last couple of kilometres with AG2R La Monidale driving things. Quick-Step and Astana have moved forward to try and get a handle on things. No breakaway attempts at the moment it's just the sprint teams doing battle for now.
The wide roads here mean that there is plenty of space for jostling and it is hard for one team to lock out the front of the group. BMC Racing is now joining in this party.
In the meantime, Stephen Cummings is observing the bunch from a safe distance behind.
@quickstepteam Fri, 23rd Feb 2018 12:20:47
There are plenty of contenders for the win today with most of the top sprinters out in Abu Dhabi, but Quick-Step have been so slick this season that it's hard to look past Viviani. He got it a bit wrong on day 1 but he was pitch perfect yesterday. The Italian is top of the win table so far this season and a victory today would be his sixth so far.
12km remaining from 133km
He will have competition from stage 1 winner Kristoff, along with Guardini, McLay, Ewan, Barbier, Bonifazio, Greipel, Kittel, Van Poppel and Halvorsen to name but a few.
Marcel Kittel will be particularly keen to get something out of today's stage and the race in general. This time last year he had four wins but he's only made it into the top 3 once so far this season.
While he has moved teams over the winter, there are several sprinters who have already won for their new team this season. First and foremost is Viviani, who replaced Kittel at Quick-Step.
8km remaining from 133km
James Knox moves to the back of the bunch after another solid effort in the saddle today. The youngster has been doing some great work in Abu Dhabi this week.
EF Education First-Drapac now doing a big pull on the front. They've been very visible today, although with that kit it is not too hard to be seen. You'd probably be able to see it in the dark.
One rider who isn't contesting the sprint is Mark Cavendish, who crashed out on day one when the race director's car braked in front of the bunch in the neutral zone. He hit his head and was forced to pull out because of concussion. The doctor has said that he's still got some symptoms of concussion but should be ready to participate in Tirreno-Adriatico. Read the full story here.
3km remaining from 133km
Just three kilometres to go for the bunch, which has been together since 50km to go. Movistar now driving things on the front.
Sunweb and Orica in the mix too while Kristoff sits on the back of the Movistar train.
Quick-Step Floors are moving up the left side of the bunch with just over a kilometre to go. Viviani has about four teammates with him.
This is a battle between Quick-Step and Mitchelton for now.
Mezgec leads it out and Ewan goes for it
Viviani comes up and Kittel too. It's a blanket finish and we'll need a photo finish.
Mezgec really wound that up but Ewan had to come from four wheels back. Viviani had a much easier run while Kittel went from right to left to surge for the line.
An overhead replay makes i look like Kittel has it, but we'll have to wait and see.
No! It's Phil Bauhaus that has taken the win.
That was a mighty close finish and a mighty fine push from Bauhaus
The 23-year-old was level with Viviani before a final surge saw the Italian distanced. A fine effort from Kittel but it was just short of what he needed to take the win.
Had Kittel had a straight run to the line then he would have trounced it but he once again finds himself out of position and trying to make up for it.
This is what the top 10 from today's finish looks like
1 Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Team Sunweb 03:02:55
2 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin
3 Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
4 Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors
5 Caleb Ewan (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
6 AndrŽ Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal
7 Rudy Barbier (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
8 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
9 Danny van Poppel (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
10 Andrea Guardini (Ita) Bardiani CSF
Phil Bauhaus had this to say after his victory: "To expect to win is difficult. I knew that I was going well at home and my goal was to take a podium or a win and I am super happy that I was able to do it.
"It’s really nice. We have a super strong team and I am really happy that it worked out here."
Viviani remains the race leader, three seconds ahead of Kristoff and Bauhaus.
General Classification after stage 3
1 Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors 11:06:36
2 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates 00:00:03
3 Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Team Sunweb
4 Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:00:05
5 Danny van Poppel (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 00:00:07
6 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin
7 Caleb Ewan (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott 00:00:09
8 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 00:00:10
9 Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo
10 Alessandro Tonelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF
@SophieSmith86 Fri, 23rd Feb 2018 12:56:07
Our report is up and we have lots of pictures from today's stage already. Full results will be available as soon as we can get them too. Take a look here.
That is it from our live coverage of today's stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour. Tune in tomorrow where we will have live coverage of the time trial. We will also have reaction from today's stage very soon.
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