The first stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour ended in a bunch sprint with LottoNL-Jumbo’s Enrico Battaglin placing 11th. Mark Cavendish won the 189-kilometre stage to Madinat Zayed with the classification riders safely tucked in the peloton.
"It was a hectic and hot day," said Sports Director Merijn Zeeman.
"It was 35 degrees and that makes racing in the desert very hard. The first stage was predictable, a leading group rode away and then a hectic sprint."
In the desert around Abu Dhabi, the peloton gave the escapees five minutes quickly. The sprinter teams controlled the race and in the final, they closed the gap.
In the last kilometre, a massive crash involved some sprinters, but the GC riders of Team LottoNL-Jumbo only came away with a scare. Robert Gesink, George Bennett and Steven Kruijswijk arrived just outside the top 30 in the same time as winner Cavendish.
In the sprint, Battaglin had the freedom to ride for himself. The Italian took the sprinter role since Juan José Lobato was not feeling well. "Juan José Lobato fell sick in recent days. He is better now, but he is still not fit," said Zeeman.
As it looks now, the riders will be sprinting again tomorrow in the Abu Dhabi Tour. The GC-riders will have their day on Saturday with the summit finish to Jebel Hafeet.