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Mark Cavendish wins first stage of Abu Dhabi Tour while Marcel Kittel crashes

Josh Cunningham
23 Feb 2017

Cavendish outsprints Andre Greipel to win a crash-marred sprint in the first stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour

Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) won the first stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour today, outsprinting Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) in a bunch sprint that also saw Marcel Kittel (Quickstep Floors) and Caleb Ewan (Orice BikeExchange) come down in a crash. 

The 189km stage predictably came down to a decisive final few kilometres, but there were a series of crashes that provided as much drama as the final sprint itself. Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) came down in a light crash with around 5km to go, but with the help first of a Bardiani rider and then the rest of his teammates, he was able to rejoin the bunch with relative ease. 

A much bigger crash occurred as the peloton went under the red kite at a kilometre to go, when the road narrowed as some barriers demarcated the inflatable gantry. 'Une terrible chute,' the commentators cringed on l'Equipe's television coverage, as a mass of bikes was seen to go flying. Pictures showed that Marcel Kittel, Caleb Ewan and Team Sky's Owain Doull all came down, with Doull in particular looking as if he'd lost a lost of skin. 

Rumours that the crash had been caused by disc brakes materialised shortly after the finish, although this remains conjecture at this stage.

It was Mark Cavendish though who survived the crash to win though, coming off of the wheel of Niccolo Bonifazio (Bahrain-Merida) and holding off both he and Andre Greipel to take the stage, and the early overall race lead.

A shorter 153km stage tomorrow is expected to end in another bunch sprint, before the GC competiton lights up on stage three with a summit finish, due to be contested by the likes of Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), Fabio Aru (Astana) and Romain Bardet (Ag2r).

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