Italian Elia Viviani won the Dubai Tour on Saturday after the Quick Step rider sprinted to victory in the fifth and final stage.
Viviani, the Rio Olympic champion in the omnium, emerged triumphant after the 132km stage along the emirate’s roads.
Danish rider Magnus Cort Nielsen of Astana finished second overall, 12 seconds back, and TBM’s Sonny Colbrelli, another Italian, was third.
— Sport360° (@Sport360) February 11, 2018
In addition to claiming the white jersey, the 25-year-old Dane also made general classification winner Elia Viviani sweat as he trailed by just two seconds entering the final day.
The late crash on the final turn of stage five did Cort Nielsen no favours, but he appeared too far behind in the peloton to challenge Viviani in the straight anyways.
With the bonuses factored in, Cort Nielsen finished 12 seconds behind Viviani for second overall, while Bahrain Merida’s Sonny Colbrelli rounded out the podium another two seconds behind.
Second place in the final GC and winner of Young Rider Classification: @MagnusCort!— Astana Pro Team (@AstanaTeam) February 10, 2018
🗣️"It’s a good debut for me at Astana Pro Team!"
📝#AstanaProTeam Race Report: https://t.co/mLZOyhdXkH.
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Despite missing out on the Circle of Stars trophy, Cort Nielsen was pleased with what he managed to accomplish in his season and team debut.
“It means a lot,” he said. “Also with second place, I’m very happy, especially because it’s my first race with Astana. So it’s very, very nice to start not only the season, but a new time of my career with a new team to show that I’m ready, I want to race and they can trust me.
“Astana was searching for someone like me and I’m very happy to be here.”
After impressing early on, Cort Nielsen has high hopes for the Classics, which he views as his ultimate goal.
“That’s just real cycling,” he said. “Those are the biggest races to win, with the most prestige, from my point of view. Therefore, that’s where I dream about doing well and see them as the biggest races.”
It was a breakthrough for Team Novo Nordisk at the Dubai Tour, meanwhile, as Quentin Valognes earned the intermediate sprint crown for the outfit’s most significant win to date.
The team, who consist of riders with diabetes and raise awareness for the disease, saw Frenchman Valognes secure the UAE jersey by jumping out in the breakaway, where he finished second in the first intermediate sprint before winning the do-or-die final sprint for the title.
Chris Williams and Charles Planet also entered stage five in contention for the intermediate sprint and the Tour overall showcased just how far Team Novo Nordisk have come since turning professional in 2008.
“I don’t have enough words in English or French or any language to explain,” Valognes said. “Our mission is to better educate people on diabetes. By this kind of performance, we’re doing it more so it’s an awesome feeling.”
After reaching the top of the podium with a victory on day three, the Manxman was out of the mix in the final two stages and couldn’t repeat his 2015 general classification triumph.
But the 32-year-old leaves Dubai in good spirits, having established a foundation for the rest of the season.
“I’m pretty happy,” said the Team Dimension Data rider. “Like today (stage five), the team were wicked there. Actually I lost [Mark] Renshaw with 1km to go, but apart from that, the team did exactly what I asked them to do and were on spot on. You see the difference from the first stage, so I’m very, very happy.”
The events will serve to build up his fitness ahead of his ultimate goal of notching more stage victories at the Tour de France in July.
“I’m going to Oman to get the workload in really. Abu Dhabi is the big target [for the Middle East],” Cavendish said. “It would be nice to win in Oman, but…
“It wasn’t originally on my calendar, but it would be the same workload as home anyway, I just miss the traveling so I might as well stay.”