Hello and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of the UAE Tour.
The sun is out in Dubai and the stage is underway. We will have all the action from what is expected to be a high-speed, aggressive sprint finish.
As we join the action, the riders are more than half way into the stage.
UAE Tour - Stage 1 » The Pointe › Dubai Silicon Oasis🚀⭐⭐⭐ S. Bennett, D. Groenewegen, F. Gaviria⭐⭐P. Ackermann, C. Ewan⭐ A. DémarePronostic du Guidon : Dylan Groenewegen 🇳🇱#UAETour pic.twitter.com/DoPKztWsDHFebruary 23, 2020
Who is your favourite sprinter to win today? Bennett, Groenewegen, Gaviria, Ackermann, Ewan, Démare and Cavendish are all in the UAE Tour.
#UAETour with 60k to go, the gap comes back under 2 min pic.twitter.com/xbP3mLSY3uFebruary 23, 2020
Suddenly the peloton arrives and colors the empty yellowish surrounding. How refreshing it is , but ALAS: They are gone with the wind.#UAETour . pic.twitter.com/u3F3w65Cm6February 23, 2020
The early break formed as the riders left the Dubai seafront and the peloton let them gain 3:00 before starting to control the gap.
The four riders are from two teams.
Nikolay Cherkasov, Cristian Scaroni (Gazprom-Rusvelo) and Leonardo Tortomasi, Veljko Stojnic (Vini Zabù - KTM).
Great to see young riders and neo-pros out front. They will fight for the first points jersey and the best young rider jersey.
#UAETour Sarà difficile che la fuga vada in porto ma va lodato il coraggio di questi due neoprofessionisti al loro debutto nel World TourIt's gonna be hard for the breakaway to get to the finish but only applauses for those two neopros in their WT debut#ForZabù pic.twitter.com/MOMV2eUMkOFebruary 23, 2020
Behind the peloton is lined out as several sprint teams lead the chase. From the Cyclingnews blimp we've seen Tony Martin doing lots of work for Jumbo-Visma.
The gap to the peloton is now 2:30.
50km to go.
Riders from UAE Team Emirates, Deceuninck and Lotto Soudal are all helping control the breakaway for their sprinters.
Chris Froome makes his return to racing today at the UAE Tour after the serious injuries he suffered in a crash last June.
"There have been some really tough moments in the past eight months but the goal was always to try and start off early," he explained.
"Being here is evidence that it has gone as well as I could have hoped. I'm super happy to be given this second chance of being back in the peloton.
Click here to read the full story on Cyclingnews.
The race is out in the desert behind the skyscrapers of Dubai now. They will cut left ands right to return to the city for the finish at the Dubai Silicon Oasis.
There is some wind, around 20km/h blowing from the north but probably not enough to split the peloton sand spark echelons.
The speed is up now as the sprint teams form together to create their lead out trains.
The view from the Cyclingnews blimp.
#UAETour🇦🇪 It's very much a flat day today and approaching the final 40km the 4 leaders have 2'20" over a controlled peloton. All eyes on a bunch sprint. pic.twitter.com/5ioZjohtB5February 23, 2020
Did we speak too soon? The peloton is suddenly lined out across the road!
40km to go.
🇦🇪 #UAETour 👊🏻 Team work #RideAsOne #TeamBahrainMcLaren📸 @bettiniphoto pic.twitter.com/9KGOWt2JxkFebruary 23, 2020
The wind is blowing from the rider's left but it is not a big problem yet for the peloton.
Up front we have attacks as the four riders in the break fight for the intermediate sprint at 36km to go.
Leonardo Tortomasi (Vini Zabù - KTM) jumped away to cross the line first and take the most points.
Tortomasi scored eight points for taking the sprint.
This is the finish of the stage.
🇦🇪 #UAETour Race update: 40km to go and the gap to the four escapees is slowly coming down. They have 1’44” on the bunch. The finish line in Dubai Silicon Oasis where the fast men in the peloton will most likely fight for glory👇 pic.twitter.com/Bn26sj8T8zFebruary 23, 2020
35km to go.
Up front Scaroni of Gazprom has eased up but the break continues and leads by 1:00.
The final 5km of the stage includes 5 sweeping turns, with one sending the riders on the outside of a roundabout.
The finish is straight for the final 500 metres, making for a fast finish.
The peloton can now see the three breakaway riders up the road. The hunt is on.
Now they are two. Veljko Stojnic (Vini Zabù - KTM) has also eased up.
Back in the peloton thew mood is still relaxed. That will change in the finale.
These two 😍With 33km to go we're heading for the inevitable sprint finish at #UAETour pic.twitter.com/fVWC9J3KORFebruary 23, 2020
25km to go.
The peloton are letting the two attackers hang off the front. If they close them down it could lead to other attacks.
The riders face a headwind until a cross-head starts at a turn with 19km to go. A cross-tail wind kicks in with 13.5km to go.
20km to go. This is the calm before the sprint storm
The pace is steady but the peloton is packed tight, ready to fight for position.
We can expect a change in speed when they turn left with 13km to go.
They will have a tail wind until the last 5km, when the turns and sweeping curves begin.
The gap to the two riders up front is 35 seconds.
On approche de l'emballage final sur l'#UAETOUR ! Moins de 20 kilomètres à parcourir ⏳ pic.twitter.com/YClooGgOx3February 23, 2020
We will perhaps see a first sprint to the corner at 13km to go.
15km to go!
We can see Jumbo-Visma on the left, Team Ineos down the middle and Deceuninck on the right.
Gruppo compatto! The break has been caught.
They sweep around the roundabout and the speed is up.
Bahrain is up there and Deceuninck also move up to take control.
Bora is also trying to move up to help Ackermann and protect Majka.
Other teams and riders are moving up on the right.
The peloton is squeezed close to the barriers on the left, with any movement pushing riders close to the barriers.
10km to go.
Team Sunweb are also forming for Dainese. Lotto are moving up for Ewan.
9km to go.
Three Deceuninck riders are on the front, on the left, forcing the others into the gutter. Other sprint teams have to do their own train in the wind to protect their sprinters.
Bahrain have three riders helping Cavendish.
Tony Martin is leading the Jumbo train up the left and uses his speed to power his way to the front.
9 kilomètres ! Sprint dans quelques minutes 💨#UAETOUR pic.twitter.com/EJrngioFNsFebruary 23, 2020
Mitchelton and Israel also move up.
5km to go!
Left turn coming up.
They dive through it at 60km/h.
🇦🇪 #UAETour Final 5 km! The battle for a good position is on. pic.twitter.com/cZjoSEIR5EFebruary 23, 2020
They swing through the big roundabout.
Deceuninck take over the lead out.
3km to go. Here we go!
Bahrain drag up Cavendish.
Jumbo have 4 riders up front.
Two sweeping curves to go.
NTT are also up front.
Here come Groupama for Demare.
But Deceuninck are back in charge.
Deceuninck lead it out.
The German was well placed and had the speed to win.
That was a hectic, high-speed sprint.
The likes of Cavendish, Gavria and Bennett were caught in the fight for the best wheel.
Ackermann rightly celebrates with his Bora teammates.
He won it well.
🇦🇪 #UAETour Yes!!!! What a powerful sprint by @Ackes171 !!! 🥇💪 pic.twitter.com/slT1IY7mUgFebruary 23, 2020
Ackermann explained he started his sprint early, at almost 300m to go, surprising his rivals and finding a clear road to the finish.
Caleb Ewan finished second and Ridy Barbier (Israel) was third.
Dylan Groenwegen came up late and was fast but left it too late.
This is the first shot of Ackermann winning at the UAE Tour.
Thanks to his win, Ackermann is also the first race leader and so will pull on the red leader's jersey.
It was Ackermann's second win of 2020 after opening his account at the Clasica de Almeria last week in Spain.
This is the top ten for the stage.
🇦🇪 #UAETour Result Stage 1 😍 pic.twitter.com/aOdkNYl4Y2February 23, 2020
"It feels good to be a bike racer again."@chrisfroome is a happy man after completing the opening stage at #UAETour - his first competitive kilometres for eight months. pic.twitter.com/HarwuRgzdbFebruary 23, 2020
"I'm super happy with this victory because almost all the top sprinters are here and I wasn't sure if my shape was good enough to beat them all," Ackermann said.
"Now I know that my shape is good and I can take it easy the next few days. It was a hectic sprint in which I was jumping from one guy's wheel to another one. I took my chance at the right time."
To see our growing photo gallery and read our report, click here.
To see just how hectic the sprint was, watch this video from the helicopter.
Pascal Ackermann wins the first stage in @uae_tour . 👏 Very chaotic first sprint, Gaviria was in a perfect position behind Pascal but Morkov closed him. I'm curious if there will be a sanction or not... (🎥 via @pasiociclismo ) #UAETourpic.twitter.com/AUJ9On2rdJFebruary 23, 2020
This is Ackermann's moment on the podium
🇦🇪 #UAETourWinners ceremony for @Ackes171 . First WorldTour victory for the #BandOfBrothers in 2020 🏆 pic.twitter.com/duAtorlsR6February 23, 2020
For once the Deceuninck-QuickStep lead out was not as smooth and in control. Morkov and Bennett were too far back and the Irishman was blocked.
Here's the final kilometre of the sprint with a local flavour...
الألماني باسكال اكيرمان دراج (بورا هانسقروه) يفوز بالمرحلة الإفتتاحية من طواف الإمارات.الأسترالي كاليب إيوان ثانياً (لوتو سودال). الإيطالي رودي باربيير ثالثاً @uae_tour @Suwaid2Abdullah#UAETour pic.twitter.com/IpSDE8zUI2February 23, 2020
#UAETour Non ci poteva essere esordio migliore nel World Tour per Veljko Stojnic che è leader nelle classifiche giovani e traguardi volantiThere couldn't be a better debut for Veljko Stojnic in the World Tour. He leads the young riders and the intermediate sprints#ForZabù pic.twitter.com/AiPm5GD6n9February 23, 2020
Thanks for joining us for live coverage of the opening stage of the UAE Tour. We'll be back on Monday with coverage of the rolling stage and uphill finish to Hatta Dam.
Click here for our full stage report, results and photo gallery.