Dylan Groenewegen sprinted to second place behind German Marcel Kittel (Quick Step) the Dubai Tour’s first stage today. Marc Cavendish (Dimension Data) placed third, right behind LottoNL-Jumbo’s rider.
“It’s a good result and I'm ahead of several top sprinters but yet, it’s not a win and that’s what I was looking for,” Groenewegen said.
“We could have done better. It gives me hope for the coming days. I’m glad to be the best young rider but I want to win as well.”
It was soon clear that this stage was to end in a bunch sprint. Early in the 181-kilometre stage, a group rode clear. The sprinters teams were not in agreement, though.
With only 10 kilometres left, the group was absorbed and the peloton was gearing up for a sprint. Quick Step, Dimension Data and Sky were prominent at the front. After a fight for position, Groenewegen sat on Kittel’s wheel.
Kittel appeared too early in front, but he held his speed and nobody could pass. Groenewegen held his spot right behind.
"The final was very hectic, I was in Tom Leezer’s wheel, but we were just too far behind. 500 meters from the finish, I decided to move up. I joined Cavendish’s wheel and 300 metres before the finish, I started sprinting. Kittel went, and I could only hold his wheel. Even so, I look forward to the next sprint."
Sports Director Grischa Niermann debuted today as sports director. From the car, he saw a typical sprint stage.
"A breakaway went and Sky and Quick Step controlled the peloton,” Niermann said. “We decided not to participate in the chase because we wanted to focus on the final."
There were some hiccups in the sprint train. The team is continually refining it, however, to deliver more wins.
“Dylan was led in the last three kilometres, but then he lost his team-mates. This is quite different from training. Here we are among the highest-level lead-out trains. The Dubai Tour, however, is the perfect place to improve ours."