Dubai Tour 2015: Elia Viviani bags first Team Sky win on stage two

Italian outsprints race leader Mark Cavendish on Palm Island

Elia Viviani sprinted to his first victory in Team Sky colours on stage two of the Dubai Tour, beating race leader Mark Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep) on Palm Island.

Viviani, Cavendish, Andrea Guardini (Astana) and John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) were all on the front as a fast and furious sprint played out into a strong headwind.

Elia Viviani celebrates his first victory in Team Sky colours (pic: ANSA/Claudio Peri)

But, led out by Ben Swift, it was Viviani who kicked hardest to open his account for the British team.

Five men had originally gone clear at the start of the day, on a slightly re-worked route due to road works, with Bernie Eisel (Team Sky) and, for the second stage running, Enrico Battaglin (Bardiani-CSF) among them.

Tunisian champion Rafaa Chtioui (Skydive Dubai), Taiwanese champion Chun Kai Feng (Lampre-Merida) and Davide Frattini (UnitedHealthCare) also went clear, with the gap rapidly rising to nearly four minutes.

Eisel and Battaglin sat up after the first intermediate sprint, taking some of the momentum of the break with them, as crosswinds started to hit hard further back.

With the gap tumbling, Chtioui opted to take it up on his own, attacking the two remaining escapees and ploughing on alone.

Echelons briefly formed in the peloton but normal service soon resumed, with Cavendish staying safely tucked in near the front alongside his team-mates.

More than 50 kilometres remained when Feng and Frattini returned to the bunch, with Chtioui holding a two-minute advantage up front.

The peloton remained unperturbed, though the overly-relaxed attitude nearly proved costly after a touch of wheels brought Robert Kiserlovski (Trek Factory Racing) and two of his team-mates down.

Viviani’s victory came after two podium places already this season (pic: Daniel Dal Zennaro/ANSA)

Cavendish and David Lopez (Team Sky) agreed to slow the pace on the front to allow the Croatian back into the bunch, before Etixx-QuickStep took over the pace-setting from Team Sky.

Chtioui ploughed on at the front of the race, with his lead gradually falling as Palm Island approached.

Confusion at the back of the bunch saw several riders take the wrong road with 14km to go, with riders from Bardiani-CSF, CCC Sprandi Polkowice and Team Novo Nordisk caught out, but the pace at the front was unabated.

Chtioui was caught inside the final ten kilometres as the fight for position heated up – Etixx-QuickStep, BMC Racing and Sky among the teams looking to seize control.

Astana and Etixx-QuickStep battled on the front as they hit the twisting roads of the Island, while Giant-Alpecin and Sky also brought men to the front.

Eisel spotted a gap for Sky and hit the front, with Viviani sat five riders back in a formidable-looking train but Etixx-QuickStep and Cavendish fought back under the flamme rouge.

Guardini, who was second on stage one, kicked first, with Cavendish on his wheel and Degenkolb in hot pursuit.

But it was Viviani who timed his acceleration to perfection, hitting the front with less than 50 metres to go to celebrate his first Team Sky success after joining from Cannondale Pro Cycling in the winter.

Mark Cavendish kept the blue jersey after finishing second on the stage (pic: ANSA/Daniel dal Zennaro)

Dubai Tour 2015: stage two – result

1) Elia Viviani (ITA) – Team Sky – 4.29.59hrs
2) Mark Cavendish (GBR) – Etixx-QuickStep – ST
3) Andrea Guardini (ITA) – Astana
4) Alexander Porsev (RUS) – Katusha
5) Andrea Palini (ITA) – Skydive Dubai
6) John Degenkolb (GER) – Giant-Alpecin
7) Daniele Ratto (ITA) – UnitedHealthCare
8) Daniel Oss (ITA) – BMC Racing
9) Michael Valgren (DEN) – Tinkoff-Saxo
10) Nicola Ruffoni (ITA) – Bardiani-CSF

General classification

1) Mark Cavendish (GBR) – Etixx-Quickstep – 7.54.43hrs
2) Elia Viviani (ITA) – Team Sky +2″
3) Andrea Guardini (ITA) – Astana +6″
4) Davide Frattini (ITA) – UnitedHealthCare +11″
5) Ben Swift (GBR) – Team Sky +13″
6) Enrico Battaglin (ITA) – Bardiani-CSF – ST
7) Alessandro Bazzana(ITA) – UnitedHealthCare
8) Manuele Boaro (ITA) – Tinkoff-Saxo +14″
9) Rafael Valls (ESP) – Lampre-Merida +15″
10) Alexander Porsev (RUS) – Katusha +16″

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