Grzegorz Stępniak earned his and team’s first top 10 spot of the 2016 season, by finishing 8th on the Stage 2 of Dubai Tour.
The Stage 2 saw a 4-man breakaway going clear early on. Polish rider Marcin Białobłocki (One Pro Cycling), alongside Silvan Dillier (BMC), Francisco Mancebo Perez (Skydive Dubai) and Koen De Kort (Giant-Alpecin) pulled away but never gained too much of a lead. The peloton kept things under control, holding the break on a 2-minute leash.
Despite tremendous effort from the escapees, the bunch caught the group within the final 20 kilometers. The last one to get caught was Mancebo, who tried to go solo, but eventually was brought back in with 12 kilometers remaining. At that point the peloton was led by Etixx-Quick Step and Dimension Data. Later also One Pro Cycling began setting the pace (Białobłocki still had something left in his tank and did some pulling) and CCC Sprandi Polkowice moved up, at the head of the pack, as well.
The finish was located on the famous artificial palm-shaped island and with 2 kilometers to go the road dived into the tunnel. At the exit of the tunnel, two riders pedaling at the front went down, close to Grzegorz Stępniak who was fighting for optimal position for the sprint. He managed to avoid the crash and was in the contention for the top places.
He finished 8th, taking his and team’s first top 10 spot of 2016 season. The late crash derailed trains of the big favorites and race leader, Marcel Kittel (Etixx-Quick Step) and Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) had to settle only for outside top 5 places.
I was very motivated at the start and I wanted to deliver good result for the team – Grzegorz Stępniak said afterwards. – The crash could have shattered all my plans, since it happened right next to me and I was the first one to go around it. I lost contact with the front of the bunch and I had to sprint to get back up front. I took a deep breath and sprinted again, this time for the finish. I took 8th and I will have one more chance, on the last day of racing, to improve that result.
Elia Viviani (Team Sky) took advantage of his teammates’ lead-out and claimed a convincing win. He outsprinted his fellow countrymen Sacha Modolo (Lampre – Merida) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo). Viviani also put on the leader jersey after the stage and will try to protect it on tomorrow’s, hardest stage of Dubai Tour, which will end with an uphill sprint to Hatta Dam.