UAE Tour Stage 1 - Live coverage

Stephen Farrand
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Tour de France quality sprint field hits UAE Tour

The map of stage 1 of the 2020 UAE Tour

Hello and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of the UAE Tour. 

The sun is out in Dubai and the stage is underway. We will have all the action from what is expected to be a high-speed, aggressive sprint finish. 

As we join the action, the riders are more than half way into the stage. 

Who is your favourite sprinter to win today?  Bennett, Groenewegen, Gaviria, Ackermann, Ewan, Démare and Cavendish are all in the UAE Tour.

The early break formed as the riders left  the Dubai seafront and the peloton let them gain 3:00 before starting to control the gap. 

The four riders are from two teams. 

Nikolay Cherkasov, Cristian Scaroni (Gazprom-Rusvelo) and Leonardo Tortomasi, Veljko Stojnic (Vini Zabù - KTM). 

Great to see young riders and neo-pros out front. They will fight for the first points jersey and the best young rider jersey. 

Behind the peloton is lined out as several sprint teams lead the chase. From the Cyclingnews blimp we've seen Tony Martin doing lots of work for Jumbo-Visma.

The gap to the peloton is now 2:30.

50km to go. 

Riders from UAE Team Emirates, Deceuninck and Lotto Soudal are all helping control the breakaway for their sprinters.  

Chris Froome makes his return to racing today at the UAE Tour after the serious injuries he suffered in a crash last June.

 "There have been some really tough moments in the past eight months but the goal was always to try and start off early," he explained. 

"Being here is evidence that it has gone as well as I could have hoped. I'm super happy to be given this second chance of being back in the peloton.

Click here to read the full story on Cyclingnews.

Chris Froome is back in action at the UAE Tour

The race is out in the desert behind the skyscrapers of Dubai now. They will cut left ands right to return to the city for the finish at the Dubai Silicon Oasis.   

There is some wind, around 20km/h blowing from the north but probably not enough to split the peloton sand spark echelons.

The speed is up now as the sprint teams form together to create their lead out trains.

The view from the Cyclingnews blimp.

Did we speak too soon? The peloton is suddenly lined out across the road!

40km to go. 

The wind is blowing from the rider's left but it is not a big problem yet for the peloton.

Up front we have attacks as the four riders in the break fight for the intermediate sprint at 36km to go.

Leonardo Tortomasi (Vini Zabù - KTM) jumped away to cross the line first and take the most points. 

Tortomasi scored eight points for taking the sprint.

This is the finish of the stage. 

35km to go.

Up front Scaroni of Gazprom has eased up but the break continues and leads by 1:00. 

The final 5km of the stage includes 5 sweeping turns, with one sending the riders on the outside of a roundabout. 

The finish is straight for the final 500 metres, making for a fast finish. 

The peloton can now see the three breakaway riders up the road. The hunt is on.

Now they are two. Veljko Stojnic (Vini Zabù - KTM) has also eased up.  

Back in the peloton thew mood is still relaxed. That will change in the finale.

25km to go.

The peloton are letting the two attackers hang off the front. If they close them down it could lead to other attacks.

The riders face a headwind until a cross-head starts at a turn with 19km to go. A cross-tail wind kicks in with 13.5km to go.

20km to go. This is the calm before the sprint storm

The pace is steady but the peloton is packed tight, ready to fight for position.

We can expect a change in speed when they turn left with 13km to go.

They will have a tail wind until the last 5km, when the turns and sweeping curves begin.

The gap to the two riders up front is 35 seconds. 

We will perhaps see a first sprint to the corner at 13km to go.

15km to go!

We can see Jumbo-Visma on the left, Team Ineos down the middle and Deceuninck on the right.

Gruppo compatto! The break has been caught. 

They sweep around the roundabout and the speed is up.

Bahrain is up there and Deceuninck also move up to take control. 

Bora is also trying to move up to help Ackermann and protect Majka.

Other teams and riders are moving up on the right. 

The peloton is squeezed close to the barriers on the left, with any movement pushing riders close to the barriers. 

10km to go. 

Team Sunweb are also forming for Dainese. Lotto are moving up for Ewan.

9km to go. 

Three Deceuninck riders are on the front, on the left, forcing the others into the gutter. Other sprint teams have to do their own train in the wind to protect their sprinters.

Bahrain have three riders helping Cavendish.  

Tony Martin is leading the Jumbo train up the left and uses his speed to power his way to the front. 

Mitchelton and Israel also move up. 

5km to go!

Left turn coming up.

They dive through it at 60km/h.

They swing through the big roundabout. 

Deceuninck take over the lead out.

3km to go. Here we go!

Bahrain drag up Cavendish.

Jumbo have 4 riders up front. 

Two sweeping curves to go.

NTT are also up front.

Here come Groupama for Demare.

But Deceuninck are back in charge.

Last KM!

Deceuninck lead it out.

Ackermann! 

The German was well placed and had the speed to win.

That was a hectic, high-speed sprint.

The likes of Cavendish, Gavria and Bennett were caught in the fight for the best wheel.

Ackermann rightly celebrates with his Bora teammates. 

He won it well. 

Ackermann explained he started his sprint early, at almost 300m to go, surprising his rivals and finding a clear road to the finish.

Caleb Ewan finished second and Ridy Barbier (Israel) was third.

Dylan Groenwegen came up late and was fast but left it too late. 

This is the first shot of Ackermann winning at the UAE Tour.

Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) wins stage 1 at the UAE Tour

Thanks to his win, Ackermann is also the first race leader and so will pull on the red leader's jersey. 

It was Ackermann's second win of 2020 after opening his account at the Clasica de Almeria last week in Spain. 

This is the top ten for the stage.

Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) won stage 1

"I'm super happy with this victory because almost all the top sprinters are here and I wasn't sure if my shape was good enough to beat them all," Ackermann said. 

"Now I know that my shape is good and I can take it easy the next few days. It was a hectic sprint in which I was jumping from one guy's wheel to another one. I took my chance at the right time."

To see our growing photo gallery and read our report, click here.

To see just how hectic the sprint was, watch this video from the helicopter.

This is Ackermann's moment on the podium

For once the Deceuninck-QuickStep lead out was not as smooth and in control. Morkov and Bennett were too far back and the Irishman was blocked.

Here's the final kilometre of the sprint with a local flavour... 

Thanks for joining us for live coverage of the opening stage of the UAE Tour. We'll be back on Monday with coverage of the rolling stage and uphill finish to Hatta Dam.

Click here for our full stage report, results and photo gallery.