Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
1 minute read
23 Feb 2017
4:38 pm

South Africa quickly makes it mark in Abu Dhabi tour

Wesley Botton

With Mark Cavendish at the heart of the effort, the Dimension Data team win the opening stage of this year's race.

Mark Cavendish. Photo: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images.

South African road cycling team Dimension Data earned their first stage victory of the top-flight international season on Thursday, with British rider Mark Cavendish clinching the opening leg of the Abu Dhabi Tour in the United Arab Emirates.

The Di-Data team members played a key role as the peloton reeled in a small group of breakaway riders with around 16km remaining.

After avoiding a crash at the final bend, by riding off the front, Cavendish went on to win a bunch sprint, completing the 189km stage in 4:37:06 as he held off a challenge from German rider Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal).

“I’m really happy with the win, and the (leader’s) jersey, obviously,” Cavendish said.

“This is a special race to me and it’s great motivation for the whole team.”

The second stage of the four-day race, which forms the third leg of the 2017 UCI World Tour, will take the peloton 153km from Al Maryah Island to Abu Dhabi on Friday.

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