With all eyes on reigning two-time race winner Marcel Kittel and 2015 victor Mark Cavendish, Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen flew to the top of the field and held off his rivals in a bunch sprint finish of the opening stage of the Dubai Tour on Tuesday.

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Racing his first race of the season, the 24-year-old picked up his first win since claiming a WorldTour victory at the inaugural Tour of Guangxi in October, which came just three months after recording a stage win on the Tour de France finale along the Champs-Elysées.
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Groenewegen edges Cort in photo finish on Stage 1

Former Orica rider Magnus Cort (Astana Pro Cycling) came second with former Team Sky sprinter Elia Viviana (Quick-Step Floors) third. Former Katusha all-rounder and reigning European champion Alexander Kristoff (Team UAE Abu Dhabi) finished fourth with Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis, Solutions Crédits) rounding out the top five. Kittel and Cavendish failed to finish in the top 10.
“First race and here are the best sprinters and we are also with a good team,” said Groenewegen after finishing the stage on the outer frond of the artificial archipelago designed in the shape of a Palm Tree and extending into the Persian Gulf off the coast of the UAE. “We had a good moment for position with a good train and we do it.”
A five-rider break dominated most of the flat 167-kilometre stage from Skydive Dubai to Palm Jumeirah before the final rider Andrew Finn (Aqua Blue Sport) was caught inside 10km. With less than 8km remaining, a mass pileup took more than a dozen riders to the asphalt, including four of Cort’s team-mates: Truls Korsaeth, Daniil Fominykh, Zhandos Bizhigitov and Laurens de Vreese.

Riders sprawled across road after huge crash on Stage 1

“We were in really good position so I didn’t see the crash,” Groenewegen told Eurosport.
All four Astana riders finished and are expected to start Stage 2 from Skydive Dubai to Ras al Khaimah (190km).
With the win, Groenewegen dons the blue leader’s jersey with four stages remaining in the five-day UCI 2.HC Asia Tour road race.
For full stage and race results, click here.
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