The blustery winds made for a sketchy ending to stage one in the Abu Dhabi tour Thursday, a perfect scenario for Giacomo Nizzolo, one of the best positioning unpredictable bunch finishes, and he easily held off John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) and Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) to take the win.
“This is the best way to start this race,” smiled Nizzolo. “After the Worlds on Sunday I said let’s go to Abu Dhabi and see if I can get one victory more, and we did it.
“There was the last real corner 1.2 kilometers to go and then a roundabout with 700 meters to go, and I asked the team to put me in a good position there. From the roundabout, I just managed by myself, and I started my sprint from 200-220 meters to go. I felt power, and I was confident to reach the line first, and that’s how it went.”
A four-man breakaway, leading from the early going, animated the final kilometers of the flat 147-kilometer race, holding over 2 minutes’ advantage with 17 kilometers to go and sounding alarms in the pursuing peloton.
Not about to leave anything to chance, even with a stiff headwind facing the riders in the run-in, Trek-Segafredo added the fast legs of Niccolo Bonifazio to the chase, leaving Kiel Reijnen and Marco Coledan to help position Nizzolo in the finale.
“When I saw that the gap was so big and so close to the finish I decided to put another guy into helping with the chase,” explained Nizzolo. “To have no doubts we decided to help pull, and in the end, it was the right choice. I am very happy, and of course a big thanks to all my team, and we will try and keep the jersey tomorrow.”
Trek-Segafredo takes the red leader’s jersey into stage two tomorrow, also projected to end in a sprint finish.