Italy’s Elia Viviani, riding for Team Sky, sprinted to victory in the second stage of the Tour of Dubai on Thursday and grabbed the leader’s blue jersey from Germany’s Marcel Kittel.

Viviani had benefitted from a crash in the final kilometre that appeared to affect opponents.

“Yesterday I opened my sprint too early and was left alone with no team-mate with 1km to go,” the Italian said.

“I’m less fast than sprinters like Kittel and (Mark) Cavendish, so to have a chance to beat them, I need everything to be perfect. We spoke about what went wrong last night and we rode perfectly as a team today. My lead out was excellent.

“Today’s stage was contested at a slower pace than yesterday’s and I was in an ideal position when the gap was closed on the breakaway riders. This finale suits me. I won here last year as well. It’s beautiful to begin the year with a victory in Dubai.”

After the 183km run from the Dubai International Marine Club to the man-made Palm Jumeirah island, it was an all-Italian podium as sprinters Sacha Modolo and Giacomo Nizzolo came in second and third respectively.

The second of four stages featured an escape led by Polish rider Marcin Bialoblocki five kilometres into the race. He was joined by Silvan Dillier, Koen de Kort and Francisco Mancebo before being reeled in.

A crash at the end of the underwater tunnel of Palm Jumeirah appeared to impact Wednesday’s opening stage winner Kittel and last year’s overall winner Cavendish of Britain. 

Viviani seized the lead, pushing Kittel to second place in the overall standings, with Nizzolo in second at 2sec.

Friday’s third stage embarks from the Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort to the Hatta Dam near the border with Oman where racers will be challenged with two climbs and descents. – Agence France-Presse

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