In a pre-race interview, Mark Cavendish paid tribute to his Omega Pharma-QuickStep bosses for assembling what he believes is the world’s premier sprint train.
And on paper a lead-out including Italian veteran Alessandro Petacchi and Cav’s former chief lieutenant at HTC, Mark Renshaw, certainly appears formidable. But races are not, as we are so often reminded, won on paper.
Early evidence from Dubai suggests more work needs to be done before the superlatives start flying the Belgian team’s way. It appeared to be going so well for them, with the race back together inside the final 11km they took control at the front of the peloton and protected Cavendish as the coastal winds battered the bunch.
Well, today’s #Dubaitour stage didn’t go as planned! Didn’t contest the sprint after finding myself a long way back with 500m to go.
— Mark Cavendish (@MarkCavendish) February 6, 2014
However, just as the finishing line drew near, the same problems which beset last year struck again – they lost control at the crucial moment. Giant-Shimano injected some pace, Cavendish got boxed in and Marcel Kittel took yet another victory.
First road stage over & done with here in #TourofDubai lots of chaos in the last kms. We messed up the final km but we will get it sorted!
— Mark Renshaw (@Mark_Renshaw) February 6, 2014
‘Must do better’ as your old school teacher might say but it’s early days and, with two more sprint stages expected, the Middle East is the perfect practice ground for Omega Pharma-QuickStep before the European racing season hots up.