Mathieu van der Poel claimed the first stage of a wind-affected opening day at the UAE Tour, where Britain’s Adam Yates had a solid start.
The Alpecin-Fenix rider took advantage after many of the top sprinters were caught up in crosswinds earlier in the stage.
The Dutchman got the better of David Dekker (Jumbo-Visma) and Michael Morkov (Deceuninck-QuickStep) to take victory from a 23-man group, three weeks after he secured the cyclo-cross world title. It was his first ever bunch sprint win at WorldTour level.
Wind causes chaos at UAE Tour as Van der Poel triumphs on Stage 1
Yates is among the early contenders in the general classification, with many dropping out of the running because of the harsh conditions. The Ineos Grenadiers rider is among a group 13 seconds off Van der Poel.
But Chris Froome, on his debut for Israel Start-Up Nation, was among the big names who effectively had their chances of success ended early, finishing over eight and a half minutes back, with Emanuel Buchmann and Vincenzo Nibali among the others who struggled.
“Today was very windy and a very hard race”, said Van der Poel at the finish.
“After the intermediate sprint a big group went away, and I was able to catch them. It was a really hard race - I know that I can finish it off in the sprint, but I didn’t expect it at all.
"It’s really nice to begin the road season with a win.”
The second of seven stages, a time trial at Al Hudayriat Island Cycle track, takes place on Monday.
Chris Froome struggled with cross-winds on his debut for Israel Start-Up Nation
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