Britain’s Mark Cavendish won a sprint finish for the first stage of the Tour of Abu Dhabi on Thursday as race favourite Marcel Kittel of Germany crashed.

The 31-year-old Dimension Data rider pulled on the leader’s red jersey after crossing ahead of Germany’s Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) and Italian Niccolo Bonifazio (Bahrain-Merida).

Germany’s Kittel fell on the final kilometre stretch just before the sprint with the Quick-Step Floors rider finishing three minutes behind the winner.

The 189km stage between Abu Dhabi and Madinat Zayed crossed the desert, with Friday’s second stage over 153km at Al Maryah Island.

First stage:

1. Marc Cavendish (GBR/DDD) 4hr 36min 56sec, 2. Andre Greipel (GER/LTS) same time, 3. Niccolo Bonifazio (ITA/TBM) s.t., 4. Simone Consonni (ITA/UAD) s.t., 5. Elia Viviani (ITA/SKY) s.t.

Overall standings: 

1. Marc Cavendish (GBR/DDD), 2. Andre Greipel (GER/LTS) at 4sec, 3. Manuel Mori (ITA/UAD) 4, 4. Niccolo Bonifazio (ITA/TBM) 6, 5. Mirco Maestri (ITA/BRD) 8 – Agence France-Presse

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