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Madinat Zayed, 8 October 2015 – Andrea Guardini (Astana Pro Team) flashed to victory today in a bunch sprint at the end of Stage 1, the ADNOC stage (Qasr Al Sarab - Madinat Zayed, 159.5km), of the inaugural Abu Dhabi Tour, organised by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council in partnership with RCS Sports and Events.

The first breakaway of the race formed after just 4km, when six riders escaped the bunch: Paul Voss (Bora Racing Team), Will Clarke (Drapac Professional Cycling), Songezo Jim (MTN- Qhubeka), Francisco Mancebo (Skydive Dubai Pro Cycling Team), Michael Thompson (Team Wiggins) and Alessandro Bazzana (UnitedHealthcare). At km 24, their lead reached its maximum of 4'05". The breakaway riders covered 35.5 kph in the first hour of racing.

Before the first intermediate sprint, in Liwa (km 70), Thompson lost contact with the lead group. Clarke, Bazzana, Mancebo and Jim filled the first four places at the sprint. The breakaway riders covered 34.8 kph in the first two hours of racing.

After 95km, only Voss and Mancebo remained at the head of the race. At the second intermediate sprint, in Liwa (km 101.5), Voss and Mancebo filled the first two places in the sprint, with Jim third at 1'50" and Henao fourth at 2'06", at the head of the peloton.

After the second intermediate sprint, Voss relented, leaving Mancebo alone in the race lead.

At approximately km 128, Tunisian national champion Rafaa Chtioui (Skydive Dubai Pro Cycling Team) darted out of the peloton, passed his team-mate Mancebo and moved to the head of the race. Chtioui held off the chasing peloton until the Red Kite marking the final kilometre of the race. The peloton, led by team-mates of some of the fastest sprinters in the world, accelerated around the final curve with 500m to go, before Guardini shot ahead of this rivals to win the first ever stage in the annals of the Abu Dhabi Tour.

1 - Andrea Guardini (Astana Pro Team) 159.5 km in 4h21’11”, average speed 36.640 km/h
2 - Tom Boonen (Etixx - Quick Step) s.t.
3 - Daniele Bennati (Tinkoff Saxo) s.t.

  • RED JERSEY, sponsored by ADNOC (General Classification by time) – Andrea Guardini (Astana Pro Team)
  • GREEN JERSEY, sponsored by ABU DHABI SPORTS COUNCIL (General Classification by points) – Andrea Guardini (Astana Pro Team)
  • WHITE JERSEY, sponsored by THE NATIONAL (Best Young Rider, born after 1 January 1990) – Songezo Jim (MTN - Qhubeka)
  • BLACK JERSEY, sponsored by ETIHAD AIRWAYS (Intermediate Sprint Jersey Classification) – Paul Voss (Bora - Argon 18)

Stage 2 – The Capital Stage (Yas Marina Circuit – Yas Mall, 129km)
Start Meeting Point: Yas Marina Circuit 
Sign-On Procedures: 12.00pm-1.25pm
Roll out (transfer 4,000m) 1.30pm
km 0: Approx. 1.40pm
Intermediate Sprints: km 54.8 - Yas Marina Circuit and km 91.3 - Emirates Palace
Finish: Yas Mall - 
approx. 5.00pm
Race Headquarters: Al Dhafra Stadium, Madinat Zayed, UAE

A flat stage across the city, starting at the Yas Marina Circuit and heading towards the southern part of the city along wide and mostly straight roads. After the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the Exhibition Hall, the peloton turns back on itself, returning to Yas Island, then follows the Corniche until the Emirates Palace. There the riders will face a U-turn, cycling again alongside the Corniche until Yas Island, where the finish line is positioned next to the Yas Mall. Again, a mass sprint is expected.

Press conference declarations by the stage winner and first race leader Andrea Guardini (Astana Pro Team):

Q Tells us what you were thinking in the final metres when you overtook Sagan.
AI remember that, with 250m to go, I took was on Bennati's wheel, and I saw Sagan call out to Bennati to pull him, because they were too close ot the front. When I was at 250m, I heard my name over the loudspeakers in the race commentary, and it was really incredible. I knew that I had the legs to do a really powerful sprint. I moved over to the left side, and I went. At that moment, I remembered what it was like to win the stage in the Giro d'Italia.

Q How did you find the heat?
A This was the hottest day of my career and, I am sure, of that of most of the other riders. We started in the desert in 53 degree heat, and it was special because it was the first time in my career. I have raced in Malaysia, in Adelaide at the Tour Down Under, and once I trained around Adelaide in 50 degree heat. I felt really hot, but when I saw the faces of the other races, I tried to remember that, even if I was suffering, the others were suffering more than me. 

Q What does it mean to you to ride in a team with Nibali and Aru, where it is difficult for you to find your place in the Tour de France or the Giro d'Italia?
A We are one of the strongest General Classification teams, especially since Fabio Aru has stepped up and built a group of riders around him, effectively creating a second GC team. We have a lot of riders to work these goals. I know that I am a sprinter who can work alone, but it is not at all easy to win a place in a Grand Tour. I hope that today's win will give me a berth in the Giro d'Italia next year, because there are a lot of sprint stages there. We start in the Netherlands, so it will be a bit like 2012, when we started in Denmark. It would be nice to do the Giro d'Italia again. 

Q You beat the World Champion in his first race today. Was that special?
A Yeah, of course it was nice to see him, 250m out, pulling for Bennati, and to pass him at 200 or 150m on the left side. I'm really happy because he was very sporting with me. He didn't close me into the barrier. He saw me on the left and he kept to his line in the centre. I am really happy that he won the World Championships  because he's a really powerful rider and a good World Champion for everyone.

Q You have won in Malaysia, Turkey, Qatar and Oman, and you have been 2nd in Dubai. Are you an expert in the heat, or in Asian races?
A I like these places, and when I saw, last year, that RCS was organising this race and that we were going to do it, I was really interested. I saw that there were a lot of sprint stages, and I am simply interested in visiting these places. For example, I like F1, and I will really enjoy seeing the Yas Marina Circuit. It will be really special for me to race there.

The Abu Dhabi Tour, organised by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council in collaboration with RCS Sport (8-11 October) consists of four stages covering a total of 555km; three stages suit the sprinters, while the remaining stage finishes uphill after a 10.8km climb with gradients touching 12%. the General Classification is expected to be decided on the climb.
On the evening of the last stage, the Tour will have the honour of hosting the very first UCI Cycling Gala awards ceremony. This unique event will celebrate the end of the UCI professional road cycling season with its stakeholders in Abu Dhabi.


Links: Abu Dhabi Tour downloads site for all content

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