In a finish for sprinters, Tim Merlier won the first stage of the UAE Tour 2024, after riding 141 kilometers between Al Dhafra Walk Madinat Zayed and Liwa. The Belgian was the fastest in a sprint, which was marred by a big crash.

The Soudal – Quick Step sprinter beat Dutchman Arvid de Kleijn (Tudor Pro Cycling Team) and Italian Jakub Mareczko (Team Corratec – Vini Fantini) by a wide margin. With Fabio Jakobsen (Team dsm-firmenich PostNL) fourth, Fernando Gaviria (Movistar Team) sixth and Juan Sebastian Molano (UAE Team Emirates) seventh.

Only after half an hour of racing, one rider managed to break away from the peloton. Mark Stewart (Corratec – Vini Fantini) rode at the front of the peloton for a while, until his teammate Marco Murgano caught him. The Briton and the Italian had a maximum lead of almost four minutes.

At the front of the peloton we saw, among others, Team Visma | Lease a Bike, Alpecin-Deceuninck and BORA-Hansgrohe. These three teams made sure that the gap was controlled. However, the wind always caused some nervousness inside the bunch.

Just before the last intermediate sprint, 24 kilometers from the finish, Stewart continued alone. Murgano, who was later neutralized by the peloton, finished second and Pello Bilbao gained a second bonus. Twenty kilometers from the finish, Stewart’s adventure ended.

In the closing stages, Thomas De Gendt tried to get away, but the Soudal Quick-Step and BORA-Hansgrohe men were alert and immediately brought him under control. In the run-up to the final sprint, things were initially quite relaxed.

The definition was marred by a crash a couple of hundred meters from the finish line, where the Huila-born Harold Tejada was involved. The incident caused some of the sprinters to be slowed down by this. At the front, Fernando Gaviria from Antioquia was the first to launch, but his strength was not enough and several riders, including Tim Merlier, overtook him. It is already the third victory of the season for the Soudal Quick-Step sprinter, having previously won two stages at the AlUla Tour.

The UAE race will continue on Tuesday with a short 12.1-kilometer individual time trial around Al Hudayriyat Island on completely flat terrain.

Stage 1 | Al Dhafra Walk Madinat Zayed – Liwa (141 km)

1 Tim MerlierSoudal – Quick Step3:09:55
2 Arvid de KleijnTudor Pro Cycling Team,,
3 Jakub MareczkoTeam Corratec – Vini Fantini,,
4 Fabio JakobsenTeam dsm-firmenich PostNL,,
5 Sam WelsfordBORA – hansgrohe,,

Ranking General

1 Tim MerlierSoudal – Quick Step3:09:45
2 Arvid de KleijnTudor Pro Cycling Team0:04
3 Mark StewartTeam Corratec – Vini Fantini,,
4 Jakub MareczkoTeam Corratec – Vini Fantini0:06
5 Marco MurganoTeam Corratec – Vini Fantini,,

Source: Revista Mundo Ciclístico