Dubai - Former world champion Mark Cavendish took the overall lead at the Dubai Tour after winning Wednesday's opening stage in a sprint finish.
The Briton held off Italians Andrea Guardini and Elia Viviani following the 145km run from the Dubai International Marine Club to Union House Flag.
Cavendish, world champion in 2011, launched his sprint finish a touch too early after his sprint train, with Australian Mark Renshaw as last lead-out man, broke up in the final run in.
As he approached the line, Cavendish was being quickly caught by Astana's Guardini but a photo finish confirmed the Etixx-Quick Step rider had held on for the win.
The Manxman admitted, though, that the final sprint had not entirely gone to plan.
"Ideally I wanted to leave it late because it was a cross headwind in the finish, (but) Sky went on the left early," he said.
"Renshaw just stayed calm, used them to pick up some speed in the slipstream, then he overtook and he started the leadout and I felt (Sky's Ben) Swift go on the left. I had to go then.
"Not out (fear of) of Swift getting the jump on me, so much as other sprinters might have gone with him and got the jump.
"So I went earlier than I (would have) liked, but I know I've good form and I was able to hold it. So, I knew it was OK when I went.
"I knew I was on top of the sprint, but I felt Andrea Guardini coming faster than me. I was happy to just hold on until the line."
The Dubai tour finishes in front of the Burj Khalifa on Saturday at the end of the fourth and final stage.
Each stage starts from the Dubai International Marine Club.