German sprinter Marcel Kittel won the first stage of the Tour of Dubai on Wednesday when he edged out last year's winner, Britain's Mark Cavendish, in a bunch sprint.
After the 173km run from the Dubai International Marine Club to Fujairah, Italy's Giacomo Nizzolo came in third with the top three picking up time bonuses of 10, six and four seconds, giving the three the lead in the overall standings.
"We were the strongest in the lead out," the giant German explained after the race.
"And the timing was perfect. We made a plan and we executed it," said Kittel, who won four stages on the 2014 Tour de France before a virus ruined his fitness in 2015.
Kittel has since left the Giant Team and taken up with Belgian outfit Quick Step, who have a history of banking on sprinters.
"I restart at zero. I feel very good about today's outcome. We'll stay focused and hopefully there's more to
come for us at the Dubai Tour," he said.
This first of four stages featured a long escape led by Loic Vliegen and Martin Mortensen, which was reeled in comfortably, however, with 10 kilometres to race.
Thursday's second stage also embarks from the Marine Club for a 183km ride out around the outskirts of the city, beside a camel track and bike route.
It comes back through the port and out onto the finish line through an underwater tunnel at Palm Jumeirah, a man-made palm-shaped island.
Results of the 173km first stage of the Tour of Dubai on Wednesday:
1. Marcel Kittel (GER/ETI) 173km in 03hr 35min 21sec, 2. Mark Cavendish (GBR/DDD) same time, 3. Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA/TRE) s.t., 4. Soufiane Haddi (MOR/Skydive) s.t., 5. Sacha Modolo (ITA/LAM).
1. Marcel Kittel (GER/ETI) 03hr 35min 11sec, 2. Mark Cavendish (GBR/DDD) at 4sec, 3. Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA/TRE) at 6, 4. Soufiane Haddi (MOR/Skydive) at 9, 5. Sacha Modolo (ITA/LAM) at 10.