Dubai - Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka's Mark Cavendish produced a magnificent sprint to win Stage 3 of the Dubai Tour on Thursday.
Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) finished in second place and Marcel Kittel (Katusha) had to be content with third place.
Stage 3 of the Dubai Tour was yet again another sprint fest, with the fastest riders in the world going full tilt for the line in Fujairah.
Cavendish proved he was the fastest of them all, with an impressive acceleration over the last 200m of the 180km stage, securing the stage victory for our African Team.
It was a steady build up to the sprint finale once again, with a four-rider early break going clear by seven minutes. Some blustery wind conditions resulted in a bit of action from the peloton, the main group splitting in two. This increased tempo saw the escapees caught in no time. As the wind died down though, so did the overall pace of the race and the peloton re-grouped for the final 60km.
Team Dimension Data made its presence felt for the final run-in to town with Mekseb Debesay and Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier doing some good pace setting at the head of the race. Coming into the last 8km, each African Team member played their part to keep Cavendish positioned at the sharp end of the race.
One-by-one, Jay Thomson, Julien Vermote, Bernie Eisel and Mark Renshaw peeled off when their jobs where done, leaving Cavendish to negotiate the final 800m.
The Manxman craftily moved up onto the wheel of Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida), waited for the right moment, and launched his sprint to come over the top of the Italian and his countryman, Elia Viviani (Quickstep) in the final 200m of the stage. Bouhanni and Kittel could only follow in Cavendish's wake, as he took his first win of the 2018 season.
“I am really happy with the win and with how the team rode today,” Cavendish said.
“We had a plan to be in the front at the roundabout at 3km to go, that was our first finish-line. That was good, we had a full African lead out into it, the lads were wicked. It was Bernie, Renshaw and I in the last 3km before I had to do my own thing in the final. I was lucky that Nacer let me in, in the last couple of hundred metres.
"After yesterday I realised I can’t really match Elia in a drag race, so I had to leave it late and wait until he passed his peak in the sprint. I then used the slingshot to pass. I am happy with that and with how the Dubai Tour has gone. I’m just a bit disappointed now that I sat up in the sprint yesterday. I let my team down because technically I could’ve been in the leader’s jersey now if I finished second and got the time bonus. I can only apologise to my team for that and make up for it on the other days going forward.”