Elia Viviani ended a memorable week by clinching the fifth and final stage of the Dubai Tour to become the first Italian to etch his name in the roll of honour list in the race's five-year history.
The Quick-Step Floors rider won the 132-kilometre stage ahead of Marco Haller (Katusha-Alpecin) and Adam Blythe (Aqua Sport Blue) with a late challenge to pip them both on the finishing line at the City Walk in Dubai on Saturday.
It was an incident-filled final sprint; Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) fell on a tight right-hand corner heading into the final straight, holding up Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) among others.
Victory capped an “amazing” week for Viviani as he celebrated his 29th birthday on Wednesday by winning Stage 2 and then Saturday’s victory in the final stage secured him both the overall classification and the points classification.
“When I signed with Quick-Step, I made a big step up,” the Italian said. “Winning sprints is my job but with this team it's much easier. We've had a good start. Now we have to confirm in the biggest races, mainly in the classics and the Grand Tours.
“I'm surprised with my shape at this time of the year because I've not done any more training than usual in the off-season.
“The main reason for these early season successes is the team and the planning process. I came straight from Australia to Dubai.
“The way I won Stage 2 against the world's best sprinters will remain in my memory. I'm also happy with how I defended the lead yesterday. In today's final sprint, the experience of track racing helped me tremendously.”
- Stage 4 highlights: Elia Viviani retains lead as Sonny Colbrelli wins race to Hatta Dam
- Stage 3 highlights: Mark Cavendish sets sights on overall win after Stage 3 win
- Stage 2 highlights: Elia Viviani wins Stage 2 to celebrate birthday in style
- Stage 1 highlights: LottoNL-Jumbo's Dylan Groenewegen wins Stage 1
Viviani became the first Italian to win the Dubai Tour and the fourth consecutive winner representing Quick-Step Floors following in the footsteps of Cavendish (2015) and two-time champion Marcel Kittel (2016, 2017).
The American Taylor Phinney was the inaugural winner in 2014 before the sprinters made Dubai their paradise.
Magnus Cort Neilsen, the runner-up and winner of the White Jersey for Best Young Rider, said: “The crash in the last curve slowed me down a little bit but didn't affect my result.
“We tried to organise a lead-out with the full team but we didn't succeed. However, I'm more than happy with my week of racing in Dubai.”
Quentin Valognes, too, was satisfied with his overall performance. The Frenchman won the UAE Flag Jersey for the Intermediate Sprint Classification.
“Every day we tried to break away to win the Intermediate Sprints,” he said. “We're all happy with this jersey, also with our Italian rider Andrea Peron finishing ninth on the stage today.
“I had points from my breakaway two days ago, I went for it again. I was the lucky guy of the team.”
1. Elia Viviani (ITA/QST) 3hr 05min 28sec
2. Marco Haller (AUT/TKA) same time
3. Adam Blythe (GB/ABS) s.t.
4. Jean-Pierre Drucker (LUX/MBC) s.t.
5. Rick Zabel (GER/TKA) s.t.
1. Elia Viviani (ITA/QST) 19hr 05min 46sec
2. Magnus Cort Nielsen (DAN/AST) at 12sec
3. Sonny Colbrelli (ITA/TBM) 14
4. Jean-Pierre Drucker (LUX/MBC) 24
5. Rick Zabel (GER/TKA) s.t.
The Blue Jersey for General individual classification by time – Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors)
The Red Jersey for General individual classification by points – Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors)
The White Jersey for the Best Young Rider born after 1 January 1993 – Magnus Cort Nielsen (Astana Pro Team)
The UAE Flag Jersey for the Intermediate Sprint Jersey Classification – Quentin Valognes (Team Novo Nordisk)