UAE Team Emirates Fernando Gaviria held off the late surge of Elia Viviani to clinch victory on stage two of the UAE Tour.
Primoz Roglic of Team Jumbo-Visma remains the leader in the General Classification.
Here are four takeaways and observations from day two.
Gaviria opened his sprint up a long way from home, and helped by the industrious work of UAE teammate Alexander Kristoff, held off the classy Viviani to secure victory. A tough feat by all means given the Italian’s class over the past 12 months.
With a headwind into the finish, the Colombian made the tough look easy as he upped the tempo in the closing 200 metres to seal a thrilling victory thanks to the speed set by Kristoff.
It was Gaviria’s 37th career victory and third of the season after his two wins in Argentina last month.
His win at Abu Dhabi Breakwater represents a serious boost as UAE Team Emirates go in search of victory on home soil.
And with sprint stages on Thursday and Saturday, Gaviria is now placed in an ideal position for further success later in the week.
ROGLIC STAYS IN RED
The Slovenian stayed in the red jersey for another day after finishing 38th on stage two.
On Sunday’s opening stage at Al Hudayriat Island, the 29-year-old crossed the finish line ahead of Jumbo-Vista team-mates Laurens De Plus, Jos Van Emden and Koen Bouman in the time-trial to snatch the red shirt.
And despite it being a sprint stage on Monday, Roglic still showed his mettle to finish at the sharp end of the peloton.
Tomorrow’s 179km stage from UAE University to Jebel Hafeet will be the first serious test for the climbers, and Roglic will be bidding to use all his power and racing craft to be at the head of the group against the likes of Richie Porte, Tom Dumoulin and Alejandro Valverde.
KITTEL A FADING FORCE?
After a disastrous 2018 season which saw him win just two sprints in March, Kittel struggled on the first fast stage in the Emirates.
With 600 metres remaining and all the big names laying down the watts, the German lacked the speed and perhaps the grit needed to challenge the likes of Gaviria and Viviani, and subsequently finished eighth.
With 89 career wins to his name and still only 30, it’s hard to say Kittel is a fading force just yet, but with a slower lead-out train at Katusha-Alpecin, it is going to be difficult to see him have the same impact as he previously enjoyed at Team Quick-Step.
With two sprint stages remaining, he still has a chance to finish off with a productive week in the Middle East.
BEAUTY OF ABU DHABI
As poor as the weather may have been with strong cross winds, stage two brought the riders past Yas Island, Saadiyat Island, the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed Grand Moque and the Corniche until the reaching the finish line at Abu Dhabi Breakwater.
It may not be as scenic as the beautiful finish at Hatta Dam, but the scenery in the capital was beautiful especially in the last quarter of the stage.
The UAE Tour’s uniqueness as a course is matched by its beauty as a location. If the riders have any breath left by the time they reach the top of the summit at Jebel Hafeet on Tuesday, it’s surely taken away by the view of blue water and mountains.
And it’s that type of individuality that helps the UAE Tour earn its place in the cycling calendar.
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