Chris Froome returned to competitive cycling for the first time in eight months as German Pascal Ackermann sprinted to an opening-stage victory on the UAE Tour on Sunday.
It was seven-time Grand Tour winner Froome’s first competitive stage since suffering numerous injuries in a high-speed crash into a wall while training at the Criterium du Dauphine last June.
He finished safely in the pack after the 148km ride around Dubai.
“It feels good to be a bike racer again,” the Briton told Team Ineos.
Ackermann started his sprint 300 metres out and that decision was vindicated as he held off Caleb Ewan to take his second win of the year.
The race also marks the first time Israeli team Israel Start-Up Nation have competed in the United Arab Emirates in the latest overture between the two countries.
“The participation in this race by our Israeli team in a Middle Eastern nation is emblematic of how cycling can be a force for diplomatic openness and progress,” their co-owner Sylvan Adams said.
Like all Arab countries, except for Jordan and Egypt, the UAE has no official relations with Israel.
Monday’s second stage is a hilly 168km ride from Hatta to Hatta Dam.