Andrea Guardini is the winner of The ADNOC Stage
Andrea Guardini (Astana Team) is the winner of the ADNOC Stage (the first stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour 2015). Guardini was forced to jump around a slowing Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) but still had the legs to beat Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep) Sagan’s teammate Daniele Bennati.
The start line was in the suggestive scenery of Qasar Al Sarab Resort in the middle of the red desert. The stage had been reduced by 14.5km after the high temperatures (around 40 C°) made for a slow day of racing, and the peloton had just one corner to manage in the final 500 metres after more than 50 kilometres of straight roads.
The presence of world champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo), Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep) and a host of other big-name riders meant that Guardini was overlooked in the pre-race build-up. However, he left all his rivals several bike lengths behind when he kicked in the final 150 metres.
Sagan wound up the sprint, working as a lead-out man for Bennati rather than his own ambitions. Bennati flicked out to the right from Sagan’s wheel moments before Guardini did the same down the left, holding the others off to claim his third win of the season. Boonen managed to take second on the line, edging past Daniele Bennati, who had been given the role of sprinter and a huge lead out by Peter Sagan.
A headwind and the relentless temperatures made for a very slow start to the day. Six men did brave the heat and broke free of the peloton. Paul Voss (Bora-Argon 18), Songezo Jim (MTN-Qhubeka), William Clarke(Drapac), Francisco Mancebo (Skydive Dubai), Alessandro Bazzana (UnitedHealthcare) and Michael Thompson (WIGGINS) were the hardy souls.
They managed to build a lead of over four minutes but the heat took its toll. Thompson was the first to crack, looking a little worse for wear. Clarke and Bazzana were next, but not until Clarke took the first intermediate sprint. They continued to drop like metaphorical flies until only Mancebo remained. There was some good news for the riders as the organisers agreed to remove the final 14.5-kilometre loop due to the slow pace and the heat.
Mancebo kept a good advantage of around two minutes but when Lampre-Merida took to the front that was demolished pretty quickly. His teammate Rafaa Chtioui sensed that Mancebo’s day was done and struck out with less than 30 kilometres to go. Chtioui asked his teammate to follow, as he breezed past him, but Mancebo had nothing left. There was a small sense of panic as Chtioui’s lead went up to two minutes but the peloton quickly regrouped and brought him back just outside the flamme rouge. Sagan led the sprint but it was Guardini that came out victorious.
Thanks to the time bonuses of 10, 6 and 4 seconds awarded at the finish, Guardini leads the overall classification by four seconds. He will wear the leader’s red jersey during Friday’s second stage from the Yas Formula One motor racing circuit to the Yas Mall.
1. Andrea Guardini 4h21’11” (Astana)
2. Tom Boonen (Etixx Quick Step)
3. Daniele Bennati (Tinkoff Saxo)
4. Andrea Palini (Skydive Dubai)
5. Marco Canola (United Healthcare)
6. Edwin Avila (Team Colombia)
7. Elia Viviani (Team Sky)
8. José Joaquin Rojas (Movistar)
9. Michael Schwarzmann (Bora Argon 18)
10. Luka Mezgec (Giant Alpecin)
#Repost: Dubaiblog’s Video