Young gun Dylan Groenewegen timed his attack to perfection to clinch the first stage of the Dubai Tour after a thrilling bunch sprint on Tuesday.
The Dutch rider from Team Lotto NL-Jumbo, fended off Astana Pro Team's Cort Magnus Nielsen and ace sprinter and birthday boy Elia Viviani at the finish, at the mouth of Atlantis The Palm.
The 24-year-old finished with a time of 3:51.25 seconds, four seconds ahead of Nielsen and six seconds from Viviani.
Groenewegen is now the overall leader of the general classification, points classification and the youth classification.
Groenewegen, who had won the Champs Elysees stage at last year's Tour de France, was awarded the leader's Blue Jersey, sponsored by the Commercial Bank of Dubai, the points leader's Red Jersey, sponsored by Emirates and the Best Young Rider's White Jersey, sponsored by RTA - Roads and Transport Authority.
Meanwhile, Alexander Kristoff made an impressive debut for his new team UAE Team Emirates since joining from Team Katusha Alpecin, with the Norwegian finishing fourth.
The Dubai Tour was built as a tussle between two-time winner Marcel Kittel, Viviani and Team Dimension Data's Mark Cavendish, and while Viviani was boxed near the rails by Groenewegen, forcing the Italian to take evasive action, Kittel encountered mechanical issues just when he was about to go for his sprint.
Kittel, who joined Team Katusha Alpecin from Quick-Step Floors was way down in 18th with Cavendish just a spot ahead in 17th.
Daniel Teklehaimanot of Cofidis, Solutions Credits, won the Intermediate Sprint Jersey Classification and the UAE Flag Jersey.
The UAE National Team's Mohammed Al Mansoori, who had topped the Intermediate sprint at Al Qudra Cycletrack at the 46.9km point, finished second in the general sprint classification, behind Teklehaimanot.
Hundred and 11 riders took to the start line at the Skydive Dubai with Team Lotto NL-Jumbo's Paul Martens not starting.
The 167km stage was laced with beautiful sights of Dubai as the riders passed through many landmarks such as The Beach, Bluewaters, Dubai Sports City, Motor City, Last Exit, Dubai Cycling Track, Al Marmoom Conservation Reserve, Al Marmoom Lakes, Hamdan Sports Complex, Global Village, Expo 2020, Jebel Ali Port, Jebel Ali Free Zone, the Jumeirah Islands and the Palm Jumeirah.
UAE National Team's Mohammed Al Mansoori and BMC Racing Team's Nathan van Hooydonck raced clear at the five-km point but were caught up by Aqua Blue Sport's Andrew Fenn after six kilometres.
As they approached 15km, Daniel Teklehaimanot and Team Novo Nordisk's Charles Planet joined Al Mansoori and van Hooydonck and broke away. By 17km, the gap between the breakaway and the peleton was 4:10 seconds, which was led by Team Katusha Alpecin and Quick-Step Floors riders.
Al Mansoori cleared the Intermediate Sprint followed by van Hooydonck, Fenn, Planet and Teklehaimanot.
The next Intermediate Sprint was taken by Teklehaimanot with Fenn following behind him, then Planet and Al Mansoori.
Later, as they approached the home stretch and the lead-out trains prepared to unleash their top sprinters, there was a crash involving several riders which included the UAE Team Emirates' Yousif Mirza Al Hammadi, nine kilometres from the finish.
But Groenewegen had no such troubles as he pipped Nielsen and Viviani at the finish.
Stage 2 on Wednesday sees the riders tackle the 190km stretch to the pristine Ras Al Khaimah.