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"Coming into the finish Elia was with Ben towards the front. The pack moved left and then right which ended up boxing them in on the run to the last corner. He was able to sprint but coming from so far back there was not so much he cou...

Photo: Sirotti






08.10.2015 @ 18:53 Posted by Andy Pedersen

Elia Viviani sprinted from deep in the pack to take seventh place on the opening stage at the Abu Dhabi Tour. '


Team Sky worked hard on a sweltering day in the desert but Viviani saw his path blocked heading into the final kilometre, unable to find a clear path to the line in Madinat Zayed.


The Italian pulled back a lot of ground to finish seventh on the day, with compatriot Andrea Guardini (Astana) timing his sprint well to take the victory. Tom Boonen (Etixx - Quick-Step) and Daniele Bennati (Tinkoff-Saxo) rounded out the podium places on a day where temperatures peaked at over 40 degrees celsius.


With a bunch sprint always likely Team Sky rode prominently towards the front to help control the situation for periods and keep Viviani out of trouble. Big turns from Sebastien Henao and Leopold Konig helped set the tone, while Andy Fenn arrived at the front in the closing stages to help trim the gap to a dangerous solo escapee.


Courtesy of bonus seconds Guardini takes a four-second lead into day two as the inaugural Abu Dhabi Tour continues with another likely sprint finish.


Five riders went clear in the break during a rolling start out of Qasr Al Sarab. Despite building out a gap of just over five minutes the group gradually wilted under the sun until only Francisco Mancebo (Skydive Dubai) remained.


Due to the intense heat the finishing circuit was cancelled, trimming 14.5km from the route and meaning that the riders were unable to ride a preview of the final kilometres.


Mancebo was swept up with 30km to go on the arrow-straight run into Madinat Zayed, an as the finish closed in more teams arrived at the front. That didn't stop Rafaa Chtioui (Skydive Dubai) attacking and opening out a two-minute gap over a weary peloton.


With the Tunisian becoming a danger for the stage win Team Sky came back to the front with 14km to go to trim the gap, yet as the catch was made and the sprint took hold, Viviani was unable to forge a path to the front.


"I think the temperatures played a major role today," explained Sports Director Dario Cioni. "Especially because most of the riders have been back in Europe and the temperatures have dropped in some places. Now to come here into full Vuelta summer temperatures it certainly had an effect.


"There was a lot of moving up and down from the peloton to the team car to get bottles. We were well stocked and we knew it would be like this having been out here for the last few days. But it's not easy for the riders.


"Coming into the finish Elia was with Ben towards the front. The pack moved left and then right which ended up boxing them in on the run to the last corner. He was able to sprint but coming from so far back there was not so much he could do. It looks like being another sprint tomorrow so we will certainly give it another try."



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