The 122km stage finished on the wide roads of the Dubai Harbour. Carina Schrempf (Fenix-Deeuninck) made a solo attack with 2.5km to race but was caught with 700 metres to go as the peloton dived into the sweeping final turn.
In the final 500 metres, Kopecky hit the front with Wiebes on her wheel. With the line in sight, Wiebes then opened her sprint and surged away from the pack.
Rachele Barbieri (dsm-firmenich PostNL) was second, with fellow Italian Chiara Consonni (UAE Team ADQ) in third.
Thanks to winning the stage, Wiebes took a ten-second time bonus and so is the first race leader, pulling on the red jersey. She will wear it during Friday’s second stage from Al Mirfa Bab Al Nojoum to Madinat Zayed which is expected to also finish in a high-speed sprint.
24-year-old Wiebes won 12 races in 2023 and started her 2024 season with yet another victory.
“It feels great to win the first race of the season. It’s always nice to win,” Wiebes said, explaining how she and SD Worx did it.
“It was a big chaos in the fight before the final corner but I still had Lotte Kopecky and she made it perfect. She’s a great rider to have to help. I’m happy with how we work together.
“We planned to be on the right as much as possible for the wind. It worked out. We now have the race lead and so there’ll be pressure on us for stage 2 but we’re ready for that.”
How it unfolded
The sign-on and start of stage 1 were held in the flowery surroundings of the Dubai Miracle Garden, with the sun creating perfect racing conditions.
The neutralised section and early kilometres took the riders out of the built-up area and onto wide open roads. The first attack came from Iris Monticolo (Top Girls Fassa Bortolo) who was quickly reeled in. FDJ-Suez then took charge and lined up at the front, trying to force echelons in the tail-crosswinds and making the other teams react.
The peloton split into two groups after only 18 km but the French team were unable to keep up the pressure and the wind was not strong enough and so things eventually got back together again.
Alice Palazzi (Top Girls Fassa Bortolo) went on the attack with 75 km to go and opened a gap of up to 45 seconds, winning the intermediate sprint at the Flamingo Lake after 59 km, where the race turned around towards Dubai again.
There was a fierce fight for the remaining points and bonus seconds in the peloton with Loes Adegeest (FDJ-SUEZ) ahead of Karlijn Swinkels (UAE Team ADQ) and Nina Buijsman (FDJ-SUEZ).
Palazzi was caught five kilometres after the intermediate sprint but there was no quiet in the peloton.
Elisa Longo Borghini (Lidl-Trek) and several other riders went down in a huge crash. Fortunately the defending champion was quickly back up again and soon rejoined the peloton.
Another Top Girls Fassa Bortolo rider attacked as Gaia Segato went off the front, and Kuskova joined up with her after a solo chase. The duo increased their gap to 1:12 minutes with 36 km to go, forcing the sprint teams to chase.
Segato just held on to the second intermediate sprint 29.3 km from the finish, being caught right afterwards. Kuskova took maximum points ahead of Segato while Kopecky beat Claire Steels (Movistar Team) to the remaining bonus second.
The peloton stayed together for the final 20 kilometres, with the speed rising constantly as the riders took in the skyscrapers of the Dubai Marina.
Amid the relative calm of the wide highway roads, another crash in the middle of the peloton took down Steels, forcing Movistar to send back three teammates to help limit the losses for their GC leader.
On-bike camera footage captured the furious fight for position in the final kilometres, with sprint trains trying to move up on each side of the peloton and even through the middle.
Schrempf surprised the sprinters and hurt their teams with her solo attack. She opened a 200 metre lead and suddenly looked like she could snatch victory from the sprinters.
However the speed was high and multiple teams joined in the chase. Schrempf made it to the one kilometre to go mark but then faded and was swept up 700 metres from the line.
The peloton dived into the sweeping left turn onto the Dubai Harbour en masse and then Kopecky took over, her rainbow jersey dragging Wiebes out front in a perfect position for the sprint after Barbara Guarischi's explosive pull on the front.
Wiebes waited for Kopecky to fade and then launched her sprint 150 metres to go. She was so strong and suddenly bike-lengths ahead of her rivals, even with time to look back and celebrate her first win of the season with her arms in the air - pointing to her nails over the line.
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