Jasper Philipsen saw off a strong field to lay claim to the first stage of the new WorldTour season on Sunday, dominating a sprint finish to the UAE Tour‘s opening stage.
The 23-year-old got the better of Sam Bennett with Ineos Grenadiers’ Elia Viviani crossing in third.
Philipsen donned the leader’s red jersey after a largely flat ride culminating in a home straight stretching 50km through the Abu Dhabi desert.
“It was a pretty fast finish,” said Philipsen after his win. “The last straight was more than 50 kilometres, so we could see the finish from very far out!
“The team did a really good job at staying calm. We had time and space to move, and then we made our way to the front.”
Trickier days are to come which will give two-time Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar his chance. The Slovenian, the winner in 2021, is the favourite in race that has two tough climbing stages and a tricky 9km individual time-trial.