Getty Images

Cycling news - Elia Viviani avenges early loss with Stage 5 victory over Fernando Gaviria

Viviani avenges early loss with Stage 5 victory over Gaviria

28/02/2019 at 20:37Updated 28/02/2019 at 21:37

Elia Viviani won a tight sprint finish to take Stage 5 of the UAE Tour on Thursday.

WorldTour cycling fans did not have to wait long for another sprint match-up between former team-mates Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick Ste) and Fernando Gaviria (UAE-Team Emirates).

Following Stage two’s loss to the former Quick Step sprinter now with UAE, the Italian champion was eager for a rematch, which came Thursday in the form of a 181-kilometre stage from the coast at Sharjah to the peninsula at Khor Fakkan.

This time, last year’s Dubai Tour winner made the most of his second chance, despite a loaded field consisting of Gaviria, Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin), Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain-Merida) and Stage 4 winner Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal).

"I am really proud of the team and myself because my lead out train worked really well,” said Viviani after out-muscling both Gaviria and Kittel for the top step of the Stage 5 podium at the UAE Tour, which is a 2019 merger between the Dubai Tour and Abu Dhabi Tour — both owned and operated by RCS Sport.

"We were thinking about our tactics after the last few days, because after losing the first sprint in stage 2 we wanted to win and today was our first chance."

Viviani had finished outside the top 100 in the previous two stages, including the summit finish atop Jebel Hafeet on Stage 3 and Wednesday’s hilltop finale at Hatta Dam. It was a strategy by Quick Step that seemingly paid off, according to the five-time Giro d’Italia stage winner.

“I am feeling good and we made a decision not to spend too much energy and focus on today, the proper sprint stage,” explained Viviani. “Today we did the perfect job, thanks always to my team-mates.”

Despite finishing 40th following back-to-back podiums, current race leader Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) maintains a 21-second lead over Stage 3 winner and reigning world champion Alejandro Valverde, who won the Abu Dhabi Tour last year. Roglic was awarded the red leader’s jersey following his squad’s team time trial win on the opening stage, and now has two stages remaining, including another mountain finish — Jebel Jais, the highest point of the United Arab Emirates.

"It was an unexpectedly tough stage due to the constant headwind. We always had to pay attention and at times the racing was really nervous," said Roglic. "But the team again worked really hard and protected me really well all day. Now we are going to focus on the important day of tomorrow. We are ready."