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SPRINT THRILLER IN ABU DHABI

Kittel wins, Ewan's celebrations turn to blushes, Cavendish keeps Red Jersey

Abu Dhabi, 24 February 2017 – Stage 2 of the Abu Dhabi Tour from Al Maryah to Al Marina ended with a thrilling bunch gallop and victory for the German powerhouse Marcel Kittel in a photo-finish. The Australian pocket rocket, Caleb Ewan, was left ruing a premature victory celebration that allowed Kittel to pip him on the line. Earlier in the day, Marco Canola’s starring role in a six-man breakaway had given him leadership of the Intermediate Sprints competition and the right to wear the Etihad Airways Black Jersey on tomorrow’s “queen stage” to Jebel Hafeet. Mark Cavendish, third in today’s sprint, retained his Al Maryah Island Red Jersey as the leader of the race overall.

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STAGE RESULT

1 - Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors) 153km in 3h28’11”, average speed 44.095km/h

2 - Caleb Ewan (Orica - Scott) s.t.

3 - Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data) s.t.

 

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION

1 - Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data)

2 - Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors) at 4"

3 - Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) at 8"

 

JERSEYS

  • The Red Jersey, sponsored by the Al Maryah Island (General individual classification by time) - Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data)
  • The Green Jersey, sponsored by Nation Towers (General individual classification by points) - Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data). Jersey will be worn tomorrow by Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors)
  • The White Jersey, sponsored by Abu Dhabi Sports Channel (Best Young Rider born after 1 January 1992) - Caleb Ewan (Orica - Scott)
  • The Black Jersey, sponsored by Etihad Airways (Intermediate Sprint Jersey Classification) - Marco Canola (Nippo - Vini Fantini)


PRESS CONFERENCE

At the press conference, the stage winner Marcel Kittel said: “I think I already came from behind like that in the last stage in Dubai. Winning like that today gave it a little extra flavour. I can say that I’m very happy. I believed until the last moment. The wind was blowing into our faces and from the left, so it made sense to surf from wheel to wheel and pick up speed.

I knew when I punctured early in the stage that it wasn’t going to be a moment for crosswinds, and that there was no danger. It was a quick change and I was back in the peloton very quickly.

I haven’t seen the video but I guess Caleb was just beaten on the line and when you don’t carry on sprinting until the line comes that definitely helps your opponent, in this case me. It’s one of those mistakes that every sprinter has made.

For me the decision to not ride disc brakes was also out of respect for colleagues. There was a bit of discussion about Owain Doull’s crash and injury being caused by the discs last night and I chose not to put oil on the fire. I’m still convinced that disc brake tech has a future in the sport but there’s still work to be done. A cage around the disc would relieve the worry of the other riders. I’m also not in favour of not everyone having the same equipment.”

 

The race leader, Mark Cavendish, said: “Today in all honesty Caleb was the strongest, riding into a block headwind. I couldn’t match him. I knew with a kilometre to go I was too far forward because in a headwind you need to be in the wheels. With Marcel’s strength he’s always going to come 5kmh faster, with his power. I went to pass Caleb but couldn’t do it.

Wind was coming harder than anticipated in the finale and we seemed to be too close to the front too soon, with our four guys. I was relieved that Orica came so we could jump on them. Ideally you want to be further back in that wind.

I’ve never sprinted off Caleb before and it’s the first time I’ve understood how hard it is to come off a small rider. There’s no difference between being on the wheel and in the wind.”

 

The White Jersey and second in the stage, Caleb Ewan, said after the finish line: “I haven’t seen how close it really was but I think the celebration is what cost me the stage today, which is pretty embarrassing. I also feel sorry for my team-mates. They did an awesome job and for me to stuff it up like that is a massive letdown to them as well.

For the first 100 kilometres today I was sitting at the back of the bunch really struggling with my shoulder, then when it started to ramp up I started focusing on the race and didn’t really notice it as much. The team supported me from the start even when I said I probably wouldn’t sprint. They always believed in me and gave me a perfect lead-out.”



TOMORROW'S STAGE

Stage 3 – Al Maryah Island Stage (186km)

From Al Ain to Jebel Hafeet

Sign-on procedures: 11:00-12:25

Alignment: 12:30

Start - KM 0: 12:35 (transfer 2,000m)

Finish: Approx. 17:00

Race Headquarters: Mercure Grand Jebel Hafeet Al Ain Hotel, Jebel Hafeet, Al Ain (UAE)



ROUTE

The third stage will take in both the sights of the city and the mountains. The first part, inside Al Ain city, is all on wide roads with roundabouts and speed bumps and is followed by a second part in the desert along wide and predominantly straight roads. At 15km to go, the route starts to rise slightly towards the final ascent, culminating in an uphill finish at an altitude of 1,025m, following an 11km climb with slopes with an 11% gradient.

 

Last km

The final climb features wide, raking bends on a three-lane highway. The gradient is mostly around 8-9% with a peak of 11% at 3km to go. There are short descents in the final kilometres before the last ramp with a straight finish on asphalt.



POINTS OF INTEREST

AL AIN - Start

Al Ain is one of the world's oldest permanently inhabited settlements, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is the second largest in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the fourth largest city in the UAE. Al Ain is the birthplace of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the first president of the United Arab Emirates.

 

SHEIKH HAZZA BIN ZAYED STADIUM - 186km to go

The home of Al Ain FC, this 25,000-seat stadium is one of Al Ain’s tallest buildings and a recognisable landmark. The outer façade design is inspired by a palm trunk, an integral part of the UAE's heritage and culture. The stadium is part of a wider project, constructed in phases, which will ultimately include residential, commercial and entertainment areas, as well as a luxury hotel and sports facilities.

 

QASR AL MUWAIJI - 183km to go

The historic Qasr Al Muwaiji – birthplace of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE – is one of the UAE’s most significant historic buildings and is located in the centre of the Al Ain. Built in the early 20th century, this simple but striking building was originally used as a diwan (a council or seat of governance) and as a place for the community to congregate. A permanent exhibition, housed in an elegant glass-walled space within the courtyard of Qasr al Muwaiji, tells the story of the fort and its inhabitants.

 

AL JAHILI FORT - 180km to go

The picturesque Al Jahili Fort is one of the UAE’s most historic buildings. It was erected in 1891 to defend the city and protect precious palm groves. The former headquarters of the Oman Trucial Scouts, the force that protected the mountain passes and kept inter-tribal peace, it also served as a residence for the local governor. The fort has been carefully restored and now houses a permanent exhibition of the work of British adventurer Sir Wilfred Thesiger (whom the locals affectionately refer to as ‘Mubarak Bin London’) and his 1940s crossings of the Rub Al Khali (The Empty Quarter) desert.

 

AL AIN OASIS - 180km to go

Once an important and lush oasis on the caravan route from the Emirates to Oman, Al Ain (in English “the spring”) is the core of the Emirate’s historical heritage, one of the oldest settlements that has been always been inhabited and is part of the Unesco World Heritage. The Al Ain oasis features a series of irrigation canals (an irrigation system over 3,000 years old, the falaj) that provide water to the palm plantations. It stretches across about 1,200 hectares (approx. 3,000 acres) and has over 147,000 date palms of 100 different varieties. Entry is free.

 

AL QATTARA SOUQ - 170km to go

Dating back to the mid-20th century and founded by the late Sheikh Shakhbut bin Sultan Al Nahyan on the palm-lined road linking Al Ain’s Al Qattara and Al Jimi oases, the historic Souq Al Qattara has been renovated and re-opened. A traditional handicrafts market takes place here every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from October to May, encouraging local families to preserve and promote Abu Dhabi’s heritage through an active involvement in traditional craft production. The Souq is linked to the redeveloped Al Qattara Fort, now home to a popular arts centre, featuring hundreds of modern exhibits, workshops, a cafe and a library.

 

AL HILI - 168km to go

Just 10km outside Al Ain (on the road to Dubai) the Hili Archaeological Gardens combine both a public garden and the archaeological site with remnants of a Bronze Age settlement (2,500-2,000 BC), which was excavated and restored in 1995. It is the source of some of the richest finds in the area, many of which are believed to be over 4,000 years old. Hili is near Fossil Valley, an area rich in a variety of fossils dating back many thousands of years to when it was covered by sea.

 

GREEN MUBAZZARAH - 15km to go

Green Mubazzarah is a hot springs park at the foothills of Jebel Hafeet and was inaugurated in 2004. You find grass fields, rivers, artificial lakes, hot springs and chalets. It looks like a Swiss village not far from Geneva that made a lasting impression on the late Sheikh Zayed, the founder of the United Arab Emirates, during a vacation.

 

JEBEL HAFEET - Finish

Rising 1,240 metres, Jebel Hafeet is the emirate’s highest peak, and the UAE’s second. This towering rocky mountain, which stands guard over Al Ain and borders Oman, is forged out of craggy limestone that has been weathered over millions of years. Significant fossil discoveries have been made in the area, which are vital pieces in the jigsaw of the city’s ancient history. Over 500 ancient burial tombs dating back 5,000 years have been found in the Jebel Hafeet foothills. Once you reach the top, you'll be rewarded with magnificent views over Al Ain.



2017 ABU DHABI TOUR TV COVERAGE

182 countries will broadcast this year’s Abu Dhabi Tour, right across the five continents. The 2017 edition of the race will be shown live by 12 TV networks. 

Abu Dhabi Sports Channel, the WorldTour event’s host broadcaster, will produce full coverage of each stage – every hard-fought kilometer, from the first pedal turn to the finale – in the United Arab Emirates and across the Middle East and North Africa with commentary in both Arabic and English. This coverage will be boosted with additional studio shows before and after each stage, featuring international cycling expert guests. 

Eurosport will show the Abu Dhabi Tour live in European and Asia Pacific networks, totalling almost 70 countries. In Italy all five stages will be broadcast on RAI Sport 1, while in France l’Equipe will show the event race on its free-to-air channel.

ESPN will broadcast from Dubai Tour in 35 territories in Spanish-speaking South America, Brazil and the Caribbean, and TDN will air exclusively in Central America and Mexico. North American fans can see live coverage on fuboTV in the USA and Canada and fans in Japan can follow the race via the live sports streaming platform DAZN. Supersport will air the Abu Dhabi Tour in South Africa, and Echonet will bring live coverage to the remainder of Sub-Saharan Africa.

#RideToAbuDhabi


SHIFT Active Media

Manolo Bertocchi

 

RCS Sport Cycling Press Office

Ph.: (+44) 1225 448333

Ph. (+44) 7979 241227

E-mail: manolo@shiftactivemedia.com

Tw.: @Shiftactive @ItalianManolo

RCS Sport

Stefano Diciatteo

 

RCS Sport Press Office Coordinator

Ph.: (+39) 02 25848758

Mob.: (+39) 335 5468466

E-mail: Stefano.diciatteo@rcs.it

Tw.: @rcssport - @stedicia

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