Quiet opening for ORICA-GreenEDGE at sweltering Abu Dhabi TourThu 8 Oct 2015
ORICA-GreenEDGE has made a quiet start to the final race of 2015, Abu Dhabi Tour, featuring outside the top ten on a scorching stage one.
As temperatures hovered over 40degrees, the opening day of racing was shortened with the removal of a 14km local finishing lap due to the extreme heat.
After an earlier breakaway and solo countermove, day one of the inaugural tour resulted in the expected sprint, won by Andrea Guardini (Astana Pro Team). Two-time Vuelta a Espana stage winner Esteban Chaves finished in the safely bunch as ORICA-GreenEDGE's top finisher in 31st position to hold onto the outfit's overall ambitions.
“Today was the longest day, we started in the desert and we finished in the desert, so it was always going to be a warm one,” sport director Matt White said.
“The temperatures are a little higher averages than normal but the next few stages are shorter and sharper and I think we’ll see more aggressive racing.
“The focus for us was always going to be with general classification. The race has some really strong sprinters here and those that could manage the heat contested the final today.”
How it happened:
The opening stage of the inaugural Abu Dhabi Tour started as expected – hot!
With the temperature soaring over 40degrees, the peloton began their 174km journey from Qasr Al Sarab to Madinat Zayed.
Five riders rode boldly off the front in what was expected to be a sprinters stage and, in support of that prediction, the peloton only allowed them to establish a few minutes advantage.
Mid-stage, organisers made the decision to shorten the stage by eliminating the 14km local finishing lap due to the extreme heat.
One by one those in front dropped off the pace. Eventually it was just Francisco Mancebo remaining, who was caught and passed by Skydive Dubai Pro Cycling Team - Al Ahli Club teammate Rafaa Chioui with 30km to go.
Chioui quickly rode out to almost two minutes advantage in the next seven kilometres before the sprinter’s teams eventually responded from behind.
Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) tried to bridge across but was reeled in and the race was back together inside the final couple of kilometres.
Andrea Guardini (Astana Pro Team) won the sprint ahead of Tom Boonen (Etixx-Quickstep) and Daniele Bennati (Tinkoff-Saxo).