Cort sprints to fourth on stage one of the Abu Dhabi Tour

Thu 20 Oct 2016

Double Vuelta a Espana stage winner Magnus Cort sprinted to fourth place against a world class field on the opening stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour today, again serving notice of the 23-year-olds rising talent.

ORICA-BikeExchange teammates Jens Keukeleire and Michael Matthews came close to deciding the stage win themselves as they controlled a four-man breakaway for some 120kilometres before being caught seven kilometres from the line by the headwind assisted peloton.

Once the race came back together the bunch sprint seemed inevitable with Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) taking the stage win and Cort narrowly missing the podium in fourth place.

Sport director Laurenzo Lapage praised the efforts of the team and noted how the squad’s versatility came into play for the stage one finale.

“We performed very positively today and at this late stage of the season it’s great to see the guys so motivated,” said Lapage. “Michael (Matthews) and Jens (Keukeleire) rode well for 120kilometres in the break and came close to staying away to contest the win before Magnus stepped up for the sprint.”

“Of course it’s hot and windy out here but the racing is pretty straightforward and the conditions are the same for everyone, but I think Michael and Jens will be feeling their effort tomorrow.

“Magnus (Cort) has really stepped to another level after his success in the Vuelta a Espana and he is brimming with self confidence. We saw again today that he can compete with the worlds best and we are all happy with how the first stage went.

“Tomorrow is another flat sprint stage before a medium mountain stage on Saturday and we will be looking to get ourselves into the best possible position to contest the finale.”

How it happened:

A hot and hazy Middle Eastern lunchtime welcomed the riders to the start of the 147kilometre stage one in Madinat Zayed.

Matthews and Keukeleire were part of an early four-man breakaway that escaped over the first 20kilometres and started to develop a sizeable advantage over the peloton.

With 70kilometres left to race the Matthews quartet had a four-minute lead on the bunch and were continuing to work well as Dimension-Data began to increase the speed of the chase.

As the crosswinds began to whip, the lead of the Matthews group started to diminish, standing below two minutes with less than 40kilometres left to race.

Matthews and Keukeleire continued to push on with their two companions down the long straight desert road towards the finale, still carrying a two-minute lead into the last 20kilometres.

The advantage of the leaders finally dropped below one minute with ten kilometres to go as the peloton viciously ramped up the speed into the strong headwind, bringing the field back together with only seen kilometres remaining.

With the break finally caught the peloton shaped up for the predicted bunch sprint as Matthews, despite his efforts in the breakaway, moved straight into position amongst his teammates at the front of the bunch.

A straightforward ultimate kilometre saw Team-Sky lead into the final corner before Giant-Alpecin muscled their way to the front as Nizzolo jumped clear to take the win with Cort half a wheel behind in fourth place.

Stage two takes place tomorrow and covers 115kilometres from Abu Dhabi to Abu Dhabi Al Marina.


Abu Dhabi Tour stage one results:

1. Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) 03:15:59

2. John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) ST

3. Mark Cavendish (Dimension-Data) ST

4. Magnus Cort (ORICA-BikeExchange) ST 


General classification after stage one:

1. Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) 03:15:59

2. John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) 00:00:04

3. Mark Cavendish (Dimension-Data) 00:00:06

4. Jens Keukeleire (ORICA-BikeExchange) 00:00:07