Dubai Tour 2017: Marcel Kittel draws first blood; Mark Cavendish third on flat tyre

Defending champion bags stage one victory to pull red jersey on again

Marcel Kittel (QuickStep Floors) drew first blood in the battle for sprinting supremacy with Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) after outsprinting the Manxman and Dutch champion Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) to win stage one of the 2017 Dubai Tour.

Cavendish suffered a late puncture, while Kittel’s sprint train fired perfectly in contrast to deliver the German to the line in stunning fashion.

Cavendish, meanwhile, held on for third place behind Groenewegen despite riding the final four kilometres with a puncture.

British champion Adam Blythe was also in the mix, in his first race for Aqua Blue Sport, as he finished just inside the top ten but there was no stopping Kittel and QuickStep.

Marcel Kittel won stage one of the 2017 Dubai Tour, with Mark Cavendish third in their first head-to-head sprinting showdown of the season (pic – Matteo Bazzi/Ansa/RCS Sport)

With 14 Brits on the startline in Dubai, there was a strong British presence in both the break and the bunch, with Dan Pearson (Aqua Blue Sport) and Tom Stewart (ONE Pro Cycling) in the group of five which went clear.

On a pan-flat course, and with a first opportunity for some of the peloton’s fastest sprinters to test their legs, there was little chance of the move succeeding, however – even if there was also little appetite for the chase.

The gap was approaching five minutes at its largest, with Silvan Dillier (BMC Racing), Nicola Boem (Bardiani-CSF) and Matteo Bono (UAE Abu Dhabi) also up the road, while Dimension Data, QuickStep Floors and Team Sky all patrolled the front of the bunch.

Bob Jungels was particularly impressive for Kittel, while Boem – who bagged seven bonus seconds from his efforts up the road – sitting up in the front group made the peloton’s task that little bit easier too.

A chaotic final 20 kilometres saw some riders hit the deck, but QuickStep were to the fore with five kilometres remaining.

While the other sprint trains delivered their men to the front, it was Kittel’s wheel they sought but the German’s team-mates were in imperious form – delivering a textbook lead-out.

Kittel won last year’s Dubai Tour and leads overall after stage one of this year’s race (pic – RCS Sport)

Blythe and Cavendish were at close quarters further back, while Groenewegen fixed himself to the German’s wheel but could not come round.

Cavendish held on for third, meanwhile – a result which also highlights his form after he admitted post-stage he had punctured with four kilometres still to race.

“There was obviously no time to get a wheel change but I wanted to get in on the time bonuses for a decent general classification position,” he told his team website.

“Sprinting with a puncture is always going to be difficult against the best sprinters in the world so I’m quite happy in the end.”

Nevertheless, it means Kittel, who won last year’s Dubai Tour overall, will wear the red jersey on stage two with three sprint stages – sandwiching an uphill finish on Hatta Dam – still to come.

Dubai Tour 2017: stage one – result

1) Marcel Kittel (GER) – QuickStep Floors – 4.06.33hrs
2) Dylan Groenewegen (NED) – LottoNL-Jumbo – ST
3) Mark Cavendish (GBR) – Dimension Data
4) John Degenkolb (GER) – Trek-Segafredo
5) Sacha Modolo (ITA) – UAE Abu Dhabi
6) Elia Viviani (ITA) – Team Sky
7) Jempy Drucker (LUX) – BMC Racing
8) Simone Consonne (ITA) – UAE Abu Dhabi
9) Steele von Hoff (AUS) – ONE Pro Cycling
10) Adam Blythe (GBR) – Aqua Blue Sport

Dubai Tour 2017: general classification

1) Marcel Kittel (GER) – QuickStep Floors – 4.06.23hrs
2) Nicola Boem (ITA) – Bardiani-CSF +3”
3) Dylan Groenewegen (NED) – LottoNL-Jumbo +4”
4) Tom Stewart (GBR) – ONE Pro Cycling – ST
5) Mark Cavendish (GBR) – Dimension Data +6″
6) Silvan Dillier (SUI) – BMC Racing – ST
7) John Degenkolb (GER) – Trek-Segafredo +10″
8) Sacha Modolo (ITA) – UAE Abu Dhabi – ST
9) Elia Viviani (ITA) – Team Sky
10) Jempy Drucker (LUX) – BMC Racing

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