In the first race of 2016 season – stage 1 of Dubai Tour – Grzegorz Stępniak finished 13th. Marcel Kittel claimed the win after a fast speed bunch gallop.
The opening 173-kilometer stage kicked off with a 6-man group breaking away. It included Marc Soler (Movistar), Soufiane Haddi (Skidive Dubai), Jesus Alberto Rubio (Al Nasr), Martin Mortensen (One Pro Cycling), Charles Planet (Team Novo Nordisk) and Loïc Vliegen (BMC).
They stretched out the lead to almost 4 minutes and the peloton made sure that the gap stayed at that level for most of the stage. Due to the tailwind, the pace was exceptionally fast – almost 47km/h – and it favored the escapees. Their hopes of defeating the peloton were alive until 30 kilometers to go though. This is when the gap began to close drastically. When it was 10 kilometers left the escape got caught and the sprinters’ battle was on.
Etixx-Quick Step set up the strongest lead-out train in the finale and delivered its sprinter, Marcel Kittel to a great position to attack. He took advantage of his teammates’ help and earned an impressive win over Mark Cavendish, who took second. Giacomo Nizzolo was third.
Grzegorz Stępniak pushed hard in the final kilometer and finished off the stage with 13th place. He is the highest ranked CCC Sprandi Polkowice rider in GC, heading to Stage 2, which will be another chance for the sprinters to shine.
In the end I tried to stay close to the favorites, in the front of the group. Unfortunately with 10 kilometers to go another rider bumped into my rear derailleur and I couldn’t sprint on the right gear. It was a pity, since I felt good and the finishing straight suited me. I will stay motivated and will do my best in the next days – Stępniak explained.