A four-rider breakaway formed almost immediately after the flag dropped and the relaxed start to the stage saw the group’s advantage extend to over nine minutes after 30 kilometers of racing.
The gap continued to grow with the peloton happy to let the leaders go almost 12 minutes clear at the front of the race before the chase began to heat up with 125 kilometers to go.
It wasn’t long before the strung-out main bunch had shaved over three minutes off the breakaway’s advantage but, soon after, strong crosswinds caused chaos with the field splitting into various echelons.
CCC Team missed the first split, which was made up of around 25 riders, however as the smaller groups behind them started to come back together, Patrick Bevin and Łukasz Owsian formed part of the third group on the road, which was never more than one minute back.
The first part of the peloton caught the early breakaway with 74 kilometers to go, and the Bevin and Owsian group made contact shortly after before the race eventually came back together as the stage headed into the city and moved away from the strong crosswinds section.
After the earlier excitement, the peloton relaxed once again. This gave two riders from the initial breakaway a second chance to go clear and the duo was sitting more the five minutes ahead at the 50-kilometer to go mark.
Mareczko was surrounded by his CCC Team teammates in the first half of the peloton heading into the final 30 kilometers of stage two but, with more exposed roads to come, the threat of crosswinds still lingered.
In the end, the bunch was grouped together when the two attackers were caught for the final time with 14 kilometers to go, and from there, the battle for position began with CCC Team helping to keep Mareczko well-positioned near the front.
On the final bend, the Italian sprinter was boxed in and lost the wheel of his teammates, however, in spite of this, he was able to use his impressive turn of speed to move up through the bunch in the closing meters of the 184-kilometer stage to squeeze into the top ten on the line.
Quotes From the Finish Line
“I definitely wanted more out of today’s stage but to finish in the top ten with the riders here is still a good result. I was just a little too far back when the sprint really started, but I was able to jump from wheel to wheel back up to the front before crossing the line tenth.”
“There was a lot of nerves in the bunch on the main crosswinds sections, and although we were not in the front group, we stay calm as we were confident that the race would come back together. After that, we stuck together as a team, and as always, it was nice to have the guys supporting me. We still have some work to do but we are motivated, and there are more opportunities to come for me here.”
Sports Director, Jackson Stewart:
“Everyone knew that there would be crosswinds during today’s stage and so when we were nearing that section, the speed went up quickly. It was so early in the stage though that I think the bunch was destroyed by nerves more than anything else. It was too far out from the finish to cause any real damage, and with the headwind in the final, I think everyone knew that. But, that doesn’t mean that the racing wasn’t still full gas at that point.”
“I think we were in a good position when the splits happened though with Paddy and Lukasz in the second group that was never too far away from the first part of the bunch. Then, when the race came back together, the normal pattern of a sprint stage resumed.”
“It was good to see all our riders rally around Jakub at that point. We weren’t looking to put too much pressure on the race though. It was more about just keeping a good position coming off the highway.”
“Overall, I think Jakub wanted a better result today and so did we. He has finished in the top ten or higher at this level of racing before so we know he can do it. I think we just have to gel a bit more as a unit and use our resources more efficiently. That will come with practice, I’m sure.”
Stage 2: Yas Island – Yas Mall > Abu Dhabi (184km)
Top 3: 1. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team-Emirates) 2. Elia Viviani (Deceunick – Quick-Step) 3. Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal)
CCC Team Top 3: 10. Jakub Mareczko 15. Patrick Bevin 39. Joey Rosskopf