Marcel Kittel takes stage 1 of Dubai Tour by storm
The Etixx – Quick-Step rider got his season off to a rolling start, out-sprinting his opponents on the inaugural day of the Middle East event.
First race of the year, first win for Marcel Kittel, who enjoyed a perfect start to his spell in the Etixx – Quick-Step jersey! Racing the Dubai Tour for the first time since 2014, when he scored three victories, the 27-year-old German won in dominating fashion stage 1 of the competition (Dubai – Fujairah, 173 km), on Wednesday. Following a textbook lead-out by the team at the end of a day in which Etixx – Quick-Step's riders pulled hard together with Team Wiggins, Dimension Data and Trek Factory-Segafredo to bring the six-man break back, Marcel Kittel hit the front from far out and launched a devastating sprint, finishing comfortably ahead of Mark Cavendish and Giacomo Nizzolo.
“We stayed calm in the last kilometers. Our plan was to come to the front after the last roundabout and we did it. The boys rode smart taking advantage of the tailwaind, they brought me in an excellent position, and I just took the opportunity. It’s the best possible start”, said Marcel Kittel, who had words of praise for his teammates at the end of the stage.
I’m really happy for today’s victory. I’m extremely satisfied with the job and the lead-out of my teammates, they were perfect, had a great timing and gave it all for me. I want to thank them for that, this is their victory as well. We showed we are really strong and I’m happy that I won also for them.
Dubai – Fujairah was a stage which brought Kittel not only huge joy and a high degree of satisfaction, but also the blue jersey, the victory and the overall lead coming as confirmation of the strong preparation and hard work he put on during the winter: “It’s nice to have the leader’s jersey, but it won’t change our plans for the next days, because with Dubai being a sprinter’s race, we would have been at the front regardless of wearing or not the blue jersey. We are relieved, because we got the win we wanted, but we will continue to work and improve. I will give everything for that, and I’m not talking only of Dubai here. My focus is to be at my best and make steps forward all season long.”
The third edition of the Dubai Tour will go ahead on Thursday with another flat stage, between Dimc and Palm Jumeirah, the world’s largest artificial island. On the course there are three intermediate sprints, the last one coming 31 kilometers before the expected sprint finish.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele