Mark Cavendish opens 2018 account with Dubai stage win
Former world champion Mark Cavendish clips Nacer Bouhanni and Marcel Kittel to claim Stage 3 of the fifth annual Dubai Tour.
The ‘Manx Missile’ Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) was all smiles after successfully firing a winning shot at the finish of the 180-kilometre third stage of the 2018 Dubai Tour on Thursday.
“I learned yesterday I couldn’t drag strip against [Elia] Viviani, so I thought I would leave it as late as possible and try to get the acceleration to the jump — wait till he’s jumped and he starts to die down a bit and I can use a jump over that.
“It was a waiting game, a risky game, I guess someone could pass you but I am very happy with that win at Dubai Tour.
However the smiles were short-lived when the realisation sank that Cav could be in general classification contention had he not sat up in the closing metres of Stage 2 when victory appeared out of reach.
“I wasn’t really aiming for GC, so I sat up yesterday when I would have ran second … and lost the time bonuses,” he told Eurosport. “Although it’s nice to win, I am a bit disappointed for my team that I let them down … we could be in the jersey going into tomorrow’s stage.”
While Viviani, who celebrated his 29th birthday on Wednesday with his second stage win of the season, has a slim four-second overall lead with the infamous Hatta Dam stage looming, the 2016 Olympic omnium gold medallist is hopeful of his chances to fight to maintain the jersey.
“Today we just missed the results, but the performance of the team is just super,” Viviani told Eurosport. “You see [Yves Lampaert] and [Fabio Sabatini], and before and [Fabio] Jakubsen and Niki [Terpstra] put me in perfect position.
“Last 50 metres they come from the back. I [saw] Cav, Bouhanni, [Sonny] Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida), [Adam] Blythe (Aqua Blue Sport) and Kittel coming up on the line. I finished 6th.”
“Really hard finish, 500m really hard,” explained Viviani. “If we are in good position at the start of this 500m we can defend. The gap is so small, but so small on the sprinters and they have completely the same goal as me.
“The closest one now is Cav, so we try to maybe gain some time or maybe try to defend tomorrow and then start thinking about [Saturday].