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Dubai Tour 2017: Stage 1


 The Dubai Tour has started! Welcome to our live coverage.

After 71km, we have a five-man break with a gap of 3:50.


Our five riders in the break are Daniel Pearson (Aqua Blue Sport), Nicola Beam (Bardiani), Silvan Dillier (BMC), Thomas Stewart (One Sport) and Matteo Bono (UAE Abu Dhabi)

81km remaining from 181km

We are now 100 km into things, and the gap has dropped to 3:20.

Boem won the intermediate sprint, with Diller second.


Oops, that was 100 km left to go. Which is now 98 km left to go.


After two hours of racing, we have an average speed of 43.200 km/h. And the gap is under three minutes, now at 2:50.


Today's stage is almost entirely flat and ends on the artificial island Palm Jumeirah. What else do we expect but a mass sprint?

The top sprint names are Mark Cavendish, John Degenkolb, Elia Viviiani and defending champion Marcel Kittel. They will be fightint it out on the finish line today but at yesterday's press conference, all as lightness and laughter. 


95km remaining from 181km

We are getting conflicting reports on the time gap, ranging from 1:20 to 2:00. We suspect the latter is correct.


Adam Blythe is making his debut with both his new team, Aqua Blue, and at this race. The British national champion is looking forward to the challenge of going up against the big-name sprinters. 


Last year the second stage had this same finish and was marked by a large crash with about 1 km to go. Let's hope that doesn't happen again!


Kittel made his QuickStep debut in this race in 2015. He won the first and last stages to take the overall title.


The top five from last year: 

1 Marcel Kittel (QuickStep)

2 Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek)

3 Juan Jose Lobato (Movistar)

4 Silvan Diller (BMC)

5 Gorka Izaguirre (Movistar)

Only Kittel and Diller are here again this year. 

70km remaining from 181km

With 70 km to go, the field is getting closer to the coast and the wind is picking up. The gap is down to 1:41.


That gap is dropping like a rock, now at 1:22. As always, the field now has to be careful not to catch them too soon. With more than 65km to go, someone else will surely try to get away.


The weather appears to be not too bad today. 25°C and a humidity of only 51%.


65km remaining from 181km

65.6km to go and 1:01.....


Again, we are getting conflicting time gaps, from 1:15 to 2:40.

The riders are now passing the Dubai Sports City, quite an athletic complex.


We will be the first to admit it will take us a few stages to figure out the new jerseys this year, but it looks as if no one team is doing the lead work at the moment. Rather, it is a mixed group. More than 60 kms to go though, so no rush.


Kittel is trying out something new today: disc brakes. QuickStep teammate Tom Boonen used them last week in San Juan. Kittel says the brakes offer a "very strong improvement." 


This year's race is one stage longer, having been expanded to five stages. Four of them, including the final stage, are sprint stages. Stage four has climbing, but even with a 17% incline, it should not be so tough, according to our race preview. 


52km remaining from 181km

With 52 km to go, our five leaders are hanging tough with a gap that bounces from 1:10 to 1:20.


The sprint is on for the third intermediate sprint!


Looks like Diller takes it ahead of Stewart and Boem.


50km remaining from 181km

50 km and the gap has dropped under a minute!


The peloton is riding through a very green area at the moment, which is unusual here.


Looks like the break group is coming to its end, only 39 seconds. But with 45 km to go, is the field ready for this?


Dimension Data has moved to the head of the field, hoping to set things up for Cavendish. Quick Step and Sky are up there, too.


 The field looks to have taken a bit of speed out, as the gap is back to 50 seconds. Meanwhile, Boem has dropped back to the field.

The skyline of the city is now to be seen, all these high-rises seem to be  popping up out of the desert. 


Viviani rather far back in the pack, but moving up towards the front. 


Kittel takes a drink and looks, as always, very cool.


30km remaining from 181km

Time to start getting serious now? 30 km left to go and 48 seconds. Not that the field leaves it too late!


The gap is in fact creeping up towards a minute!


And just like that, the gap is falling again, now at 35 seconds. 


We have a large crash near the end of the field.. Road furniture near a roundabout. We hope there are no injuries.


20km remaining from 181km

29 km to go and 24 seconds!


The four leaders are still ahead but the peloton is strung out single file, flying through the streets of downtown Dubai.


Quick Step looks to have the lead work firmly in hand.


Only a handful of seconds now. The field has the break group well in sight. 


Bahrain Merida has now moved to the front of the field.


Everyone seems to be taking turns up front, now we see a lot of Cannondale.


Bahrain Merida is quite easy to pick out, with those golden helmets.


Five seconds, and counting down .-- and the break is over with 10.5 km to go.


There is a dramatic curving bridge leading up the finish area, but they will not be riding on it. Instead they will go underwater in a tunnel. 


QuickStep really pushing the speed at the front of the field.


And they all disappear into the tunnel!


And here they are coming out the other end!  Bernie Eisel (DIDate) leads the way.


5km of Palm to go!


Dimension Data driving hard now, with Cavendish tucked in fourth.  Bahrain Merida moving up front again.


A sharp curve has taken out Sonny Cabrelli, Bahrain Merida's sprinter. All that work for nothing! QuickStep back up front.


2 km and the sprint trains are forming!


The final km!


QS still up front but have they led too long?


Sky creeping up on the left.


Nope,no question about that. An easy win for Kittel after some perfect work by his team.


Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo) second, Cavendish third, Degenkolb fourth.


That is Quick Step's sixth win this season.


The only surprise in this finish may be the high placing of Groenewegen. He moved up when Cavendish was unable to hold on to Kittel's wheel.


Let's correct that: this is QuickStep's 7th win. Six of them were sprints!

The top ten:

1 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Quick-Step Floors 04:06:33

2 Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo

3 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data

4 John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo

5 Sacha Modolo (Ita) Team UAE Abu Dhabi

6 Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky

7 Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team

8 Simone Consonne (Ita) UAE Abu Dhabi

9 Steele Von Hoff (Aus) One Pro Cycling

10 Adam Blythe (GBr) Aqua Blue Sport

If we have added things up correctly, that is Kittel's sixth stage win in Dubai.


Here you can take a look at our race report.


It looks like Cavendish finished the race with a flat tyre. Perhaps the difference between first and third?


John Degenkolb had to miss Dubai last year, after his horrible training camp crash. So he is especially happy here, with his new team Trek Segafredo. "A good way to start the season. Happy with my shape & work of the teammates."

This beautiful bike is what Kittel used to win today. Take a good look at it (and its disc brakes).



That's it for today. Join us again tomorrow for more thrills in the desert. Meanwhile you can read up on today's stage here in our race report. 


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