It looks as if every great sprinter wants to hold the KOTS title at least once. After Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data) had himself crowned King after the first stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour yesterday, that other present-day sprinting legend Marcel Kittel (Quick Step Floors) took the win – and the title – today.
Until the very end of the sprint, everyone watching thought quadruple sprint king Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) would take the title back from Cavendish, but he started celebrating a fraction too early, and got beaten by Kittel’s final jump.
The next KOTS title race will probably be stage 4, on the Yas Marina Formula One circuit.
The fifth KOTS title race in history finally saw a change of power in the sprint kingdom, when Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data), arguably the best sprinter ever, beat rival André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) and Niccolo Bonifazio (Bahrain-Merida) in Madinat Zayed at the finish of the first stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour.
Reigning King of the Sprint Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) couldn’t defend his chances properly, though, as he got involved in a crash a kilometre from the line, which also brought down co-favourite Marcel Kittel (Quick Step Floors).
Can Cavendish also achieve a double – or even a triple? This time tomorrow, we might already know!
Tomorrow the show that is the UCI WorldTour will move to the Middle East, when the Abu Dhabi Tour kicks off, and also the King of the Sprint sideshow will continue in the same location, since quadruple King Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) chose Abu Dhabi for his first race after his four Tour Down Under wins.
Retaining his title won’t be easy for Ewan, however, since the competition will be stronger than ever. To name a few of the champions that will probably try to take over the King of the Sprint title already at the end of the first stage: Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data), Marcel Kittel (Quick Step Floors), André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) and Elia Viviani (Team Sky).
We’re looking forward to an exciting week!
Last Sunday we guessed that Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott), the reigning King of the Sprint, might defend his title in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on 29 January, but we had failed to notice this Cyclingnews article from the beginning of the month, in which Ewan was quoted as follows:
I’ll do Tour Down Under and the Australian Day crit here in Melbourne and after that I’m done here in Australia. I head to Europe first and then to South Africa. I have Abu Dhabi in between. They’re my first goals and hopefully I can get through those alright en route to San Remo.
This means Ewan will certainly ride the Abu Dhabi Tour from 23 to 26 February. But does it also mean he’ll race in Europe first, or will he just train there? And if he rides a European race, which one will it be?
Ewan did contest the Australian Day circuit race today, and, surprisingly, didn’t win. (Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) did.) Criteriums can never be King of the Sprint title races, however, so Ewan still holds the title, and will now take it out of Australia.