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.