News: Sixth for Hennessy on stage one in Dubai

Gent-Wevelgem U23 champion Jacob Hennessy battled through the crashes to finish sixth on Stage 1 in the Tour of Dubai won by Dylan Groenewegen

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News: Sixth for Hennessy on stage one in Dubai

Gent-Wevelgem U23 champion Jacob Hennessy (Mitchelton-BikeExchange) battled through the crashes to finish sixth on Stage 1 in the Tour of Dubai won by Dylan Groenewegen

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A great experience for Mitchelton-BikeExchange began in perfect conditions at Skydive Dubai with a slight tailwind pushing the peloton out into the desert before making the turn behind a breakaway quintet to head back towards the coast and the finish on the Palm Jumeirah. As expected from the only UCI Continental team in the race the first day was about acclimatising to racing within the WorldTour peloton and enjoying the learning experience whilst keeping sprinter Hennessy in a good position.

However, that wasn’t on the agenda for the riders, as a hectic finale unfolded Hennessy launched himself into the bunch sprint to take sixth place behind stage winner Dylan Groenewgen (LottoNL-Jumbo) and finish ahead of some of the top sprinters in the world.

The opening stage began as anticipated with an early breakaway of five riders going up the road in the first kilometres and quickly establishing a lead that topped out at five minutes before the peloton started to ride tempo and eat into the advantage. The situation did not change until the closing 20kilometres when Andy Fenn (Aquablue-Sport) pushed on alone with the peloton less than a minute behind. Despite the effort from Fenn, there was never much doubt that he would be caught, and the peloton passed him at the ten-kilometre mark.
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Moments later a crash in the middle of the bunch disrupted the field with all Mitchelton-BikeExchange managing to avoid the spill along with most of the main sprinters. With some coastal wind and a sharp dip and rise through a tunnel with three kilometres to go to deal with, the finish was anything but straight forward and positioning would be vitally important. A slight cross-headwind hit the riders as they came out of the tunnel at speed and instantly shifted to the near side of the road with Rob Stannard leaving Hennessy in a strong position, the 21-year-old Briton took his chance and sprinted through the gaps and into the top ten.

Jacob Hennessy – Sixth: “The whole team were amazing today, everybody did their bit and Sam Jenner looked after me all day long and was constantly looking over his shoulder to make sure I was ok until Rob took over and dropped me off with 400metres to go. They really were brilliant. It was hectic in the final and it surprised me how tight it was coming out of the tunnel, but we were up near the front and that proved to be important because it wound right up with two kilometres to go. The speed didn’t surprise me too much, but it was quite sketchy and I couldn’t look around so I just went for it and I am super happy with the result.”

Other Reactions:
Dylan Groenewegen: “It’s great to win here” he said afterwards “because there are a lot of good sprinters. I came close every day last year but I didn’t win. I came second twice and I’m glad to start this new season on the right foot, thanks to the good job by my team. Quick-Step made it a very hard sprint by setting a high speed from far out but I launched my sprint with 200m to go. It was very tight at the end but went in my favour. It feels good to win my first stage this year.”

Elia Viviani (third) “The guys did a great job, they were really strong and showed that by taking the front with three kilometers remaining and marshalling the peloton. We tried to stay on the right to be protected by the crosswinds, we followed our plan and I had good legs, but it wasn’t to be today”, said Elia Viviani, who tomorrow will turn 29. “Looking in hindsight, I could have gone on the left side, but it’s the kind of decision you take in a second. I am disappointed that I couldn’t repay the team with a victory, but we will try again tomorrow.”

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Mark Cavendish: I didn’t even sprint really. I got a good workload in during the final, the lead up to the sprint, but I wasn’t able to sprint at all. I thought I was still in with a shout with 400m to go but then guys were just going all different directions. I was feeling alright though, Renshaw was really good, Bernie was good and Julien was up there too.”

Alexander Kristoff said; “I’m happy to have the support of the team in what is my UAE Team Emirates debut. It was a pretty chaotic sprint finish because the race was easy for the majority of the course and it’s always more difficult in the final kilometres when everybody’s fresh. My teammates led me out well and I managed to avoid the crash, but unfortunately, I had to break in the final hundred meters, when I was focused on pushing forward. But, despite this, I am satisfied with the performance for my first race of 2018.“

Magnus Cort (2nd) – It’s a very nice start for my season at Astana Pro Team. It’s a very good peloton here, so I’m happy with the second place. But of course when you’re so close on the win it’s impossible not to be a little bit disappointed but I have to be happy because of the strong peloton here. So it was a good day and of course I have to thank the team as well for this, – told Magnus Cort after the stage.



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