Caleb Ewan’s super start to the 2017 season came crashing down at the Tour of Abu Dhabi when the sprinter was involved in a high-speed crash a kilometre from the finish.
Marcel Kittel, one of the hot favourites to win the star-studded race, was also caught in the crash and landed heavily along with several other riders.
Kittel, of Quick-Step Floors, later Tweeted “I am happy I’m still in one piece. Was a nasty crash. I landed ‘Superman’ – like on my chest. My heart rate belt took most of the damage.”
Ahead of the crash, and piloted superbly by his ever-reliable leadout riders, Mark Cavendish of Team Dimension Data won Stage 1 of the four-day WorldTour event. Describing his win, Cavendish thanked his teammates.
“I wanted to go a bit late obviously with the wind, but Bonifazio went early which played into my hands because I could just bounce off him and go through,” he said. “I’m really happy with the win and the jersey obviously, this is a special race to me and its great motivation for the whole team.”
Caleb Down But Not Out
Orica-Scott Sport Director Dave McPartland confirmed 22yo Caleb Ewan took a hit to his shoulder.
“It doesn’t appear to be too bad but he will go to the hospital to double check things,” he said. “He was conscious of what happened and was able to get back on his bike and at least ride to the finish.”
Being led by teammate Roger Kluge prior to the crash, Kluge cleared the carnage and went on to finish 6th.
“Roger can look after himself really well in a finish so his sixth place at least puts a positive spin on the day,” McPartland added. “Hopefully everybody will be ok and tomorrow is another day.”
Tour of Abu Dhabi Stage 1 Top Three
1. Mark Cavendish -Dimension-Data 4”37’06
2. Andre Greipel – Lotto-Soudal
3. Niccolò Bonifazio – Bahrain Merida
General classification after Stage 1
1. Mark Cavendish (Dimension-Data) 4”36’56
2. Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) 0:04
3. Niccolò Bonifazio (Bahrain Merida) 0:06