Ewan fifth on stage two of the Abu Dhabi Tour as crosswinds split the fieldThu 22 Feb 2018
Mitchelton-SCOTT looked to have done everything right on the second stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour as they made the front split in the crosswinds and kept sprinter Caleb Ewan safe going into the final kilometre, but after getting slightly boxed in Ewan would have to settle for fifth on the day.
Lining up at the start of the short stage around Yas Island the peloton appeared tanned and calm, but it didn’t take long for the action to begin with attacks forming the early breakaway straight out of the neutral zone.
As with stage one it was Canadian time trial champion Svein Tuft who ate into the lead of the quintet out front, bringing the race back together with 50kilometres to go before severe crosswinds caused more splits.
Mitchelton-SCOTT and Ewan made the front group and despite a strong effort to stay away the front of the race came back together for the bunch sprint with Elia Viviani (Quick-Step-Floors) taking the stage win and moving into the race lead.
A fast start to proceedings saw a breakaway quintet break clear over the initial 20kilometres and push their lead out to four minutes before the peloton began to take notice after the halfway point,
With 50kilometres remaining efforts from Mitchelton-SCOTT and Katusha brought the race back together before crosswinds split the field.
Ewan made it into the front group with teammates whilst race leader Alexander Kristoff (UAE) missed out, the pace was high with the chasers frantically trying to regain contact. The regrouping happened with 15kilometres to go and the tension finally eased along with the wind.
Once back together the fight for position within the peloton soon began in earnest with Ewan visible in the white jersey on the wheel of Luka Mezgec going into the last corner.
With 300metres to go the bunch went for it as Viviani took the initiative and gained a slight gap to take the win with Ewan, despite carrying speed, unable to break free and finishing in fifth.
Caleb Ewan - Fifth:
“It was a bit of a different stage today, the last 50kilometres there was a fair bit of crosswinds and we were in a good position with four of us up there, but it came back together before the sprint.”
“I was feeling good going into the final but looking back I was too close to the left-hand barrier and I wanted to get out over to the right, but Viviani came with so much speed and by then it was too late for me. The boys were great again today, my form is good and we will definitely go for it again tomorrow.”
Sport director Dave McPartland:
“In the main the stage went well today the boys rode really well especially through the wind when the splits occurred. We had Caleb up there and importantly Simon Yates and at one point I thought it might go all the way to the finish.”
“Once it came back together we concentrated on position and the lead out boys did a really good job, but I think Caleb got a little bit lost in what was quite a messy final 200metres and couldn’t break clear.
“Looking ahead to tomorrow and it’s another opportunity, Caleb knows the finish from last year – where he raised his arms a little bit too early – and we will try and make it third time lucky before the GC comes into play with the TT stage on Saturday.”
Abu Dhabi Tour stage two results:
1. Elia Viviani (Quick-Step-Floors) 03:15:30
2. Danny Van Poppel (LottoNL-Jumbo) ST
3. Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) ST
5. Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST
General classification after stage two:
1. Elia Viviani (Quick-Step-Floors) 08:03:44
2. Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Abu-Dhabi) ST
3. Danny Van Poppel (LottoNL-Jumbo) +0:04
5. Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:06
Photos courtesy of Getty Images.