Cavendish happy with growth of race in third edition

Matt Jones 27/02/2017
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UAE Team Emirates president Matar Al Dhaheri heralded a “great start” for the Emirates-backed team after skipper Rui Costa reigned supreme in a rain-soaked final stage at Yas Marina Circuit on Sunday night.

The Portuguese rider held onto his slim lead in the General Classification after winning the critical mountain Stage 3 on Saturday. The 30-year-old was well protected by his team-mates on the Formula One track, finishing the race 14th to give him overall triumph ahead of Katusha-Alpecin’s Ilnur Zakarin by four seconds.

It signals rapid progress for a team established just two months ago and president Al Dhaheri declared his pride after admitting putting the team under tremendous pressure leading up to the third staging of the Tour – the first time it had been held as a WorldTour race.

“It was tremendous pressure for the team,” said Al Dhaheri.

“We put them under tremendous pressure because this was the first time a WorldTour race comes to the UAE. They proved they were successful, they are champions and they made a whole nation happy.

“It’s great (that the team could cement overall victory after winning Stage 3). It’s the second month and I’m very happy for the team and all the effort they make. The team, the coach, the doctors, the sponsors.

“I think we proved we have a good, young team. They have achieved what we are looking for, it’s a great start. We are having a good season and I hope we will continue on with the same spirit.”

Tour ambassador Mark Cavendish, meanwhile, spoke in glowing terms of the continued growth of the race.

“Absolutely, it has grown again this year,” said the 31-year-old Manx Missile who won the opening stage on Thursday.

“The field we had this year was probably the strongest we’ll get in the whole year. I’m proud to be part of it as an ambassador and to see how much it’s grown. It’s a nice race and you can see how good it is by the fact we had some good racing across the four days.”

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Contador happy despite failure to win UAE mountain stage

Matt Jones 27/02/2017
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Alberto Contador was satisfied with his display at the Abu Dhabi Tour and the Spaniard says his appearance in the Emirates had the desired effect as he looks ahead to the rest of the UCI WorldTour season.

The Trek–Segafredo mountain sensation – who along with Bahrain Merida’s Vincenzo Nibali is one of just two current riders to have won each of the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana – caused confusion on Stage 3 of the Tour when he failed to launch a sustained challenge for the win on the crucial Jebel Hafeet ascent.

Saturday’s penultimate leg is renowned for being crucial to the overall General Classification  victory, but an attack from favourites such as Contador, Nairo Quintana, Nibali and Fabio Aru never materialized at UAE Team Emirates’ Rui Costa claimed a stage victory that also set up overall triumph.

The 34-year-old Contador finished just over a minute back in 12th place but, having not initially been scheduled to participate in the UAE, claims he is good shape for Paris–Nice which begins on Sunday.

“It’s a race I like a lot. Now I go with a clear head to fight for the victory and we’ll see how I get on,” Contador said of the 75th edition edition of one of cycling’s most iconic races.

“At the end of the day, I decided to come to this race (Abu Dhabi Tour) at the last minute. When we decided to come here it was to gather speed. I had a training camp lined up between Andalucia and Paris-Nice, but we swapped it for this race to get the speed in the legs.

“And that’s what we did. There was a clear leader, Bauke (Mollema), and we had to get behind his chances.”

Portuguese rider Costa, who claimed a maiden race title for his team, having only come into existence in December, won a two man sprint on the Al Ain mountaintop against Katusha-Alpecin opponent Ilnur Zakarin.

The expected showdown between the favourites never unfolded. With teammate Mollema up near the front, Contador was not willing to give too much chase.

He instead stayed as close to Movistar’s Quintana as possible, so that the Colombian would not take the win.

“I’m a rider who likes to attack, but in this case, the better situation was this one,” added Contador, a multiple winner of each of cycling’s three Grand Tours (Tour de France 2007 & 2009; Giro 2008 & 2015; Vuelta 2008, 2012 & 2014).

“We have multiple cards in the team and we played them. For me, (Saturday) a different situation presented itself. At the end of the day, I’m often the most offensive rider, the one who launches a lot of attacks. (Saturday) it was the opposite role for me.

“It’s a role that I like, partly because I’m not so accustomed to doing it. But also I like it because my teammates then have more options.

“The truth is the sensations were good. Coming almost straight from Ruta (Vuelta a Andalucia, where he finished second overall) with the travel and the time changes, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. But the truth is I felt very good.

“(Saturday) we played the card of Bauke, which was good for us, and it was down to me to control the race. I knew that Nairo was the most dangerous rider, I knew that if I managed to control things for Bauke, it would be best way to make an impact.

“In the end, they took a lot of time up front, and Bauke wasn’t able to make it up. But still, it was good, another day of training.”

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The numbers behind Abu Dhabi Tour 2017

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Abu Dhabi Tour 2017.

The third edition of the Abu Dhabi Tour and the first since the event was awarded WorldTour status proved worthy of the sensational field of top riders who assembled at Yas Marina Circuit last week.

As expected, the 2017 Abu Dhabi Tour was the biggest and best since the race’s inception – and one whose scale and impact is demonstrated by the facts and figures below.

  • 1 – as Abu Dhabi Tour, the one and only World Tour race in the Middle East
  • 2 – helicopters for the race provided by Abu Dhabi Aviation
  • 3 – editions of the Abu Dhabi Tour so far
  • 4 – stages, totalling 671km of racing
  • 5 – the continents represented by the athletes of 32 different countries
  • 7km – advertising banners in the start and finish areas
  • 15h42’21” – the total time raced by Portugal’s Rui Costa (UAE Abu Dhabi), winner of the third edition. He wore the Red Jersey powered by Al Maryah Island for just one stage
  • 19 – TV production cameras: 9 at the finish, 4 at the start, 1 in each of the two helicopters, 4 on the motorbikes during the race
  • 24 – the age of best young rider Julian Alaphilippe (Quick Step – Floors), who wore the white jersey sponsored by Abu Dhabi Sports Channel
Rui Costa celebrates after winning the final Yas Island stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour.

Rui Costa celebrates after winning the Abu Dhabi Tour.

  • 37 – riders from Italy, the best represented country, then 12 from Russia and 9 from Spain and the Netherlands
  • 41 – race press releases since November 2016
  • 42.715km/h – average speed of the 2017 Abu Dhabi Tour
  • 46.859km/h – the average speed of the fastest stage
  • 53 – the points of Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data), winner of the Green Jersey sponsored by Nation Towers
  • 54 – the dossard number of Patrick Konrad (Bora – Hansgrohe), winner of the Black Jersey sponsored by Etihad Airways
  • 68.8km/h – the speed of Marcel Kittel in full flight in Stage 2’s bunch sprint. Caleb Ewan maxed out at 65.8km/h, as measured by Velon
  • 70 – Mercedes involved in the race, all supplied by Emirates Motor Company
  • 73 – Nations represented by the media for a total of 121 journalists and 45 photographers
Marcel Kittel

Marcel Kittel after winning stage two.

  • 141 – riders at the finish
  • 158 – riders at the start
  • 100 – vehicles in total including cars, vans and team cars provided by Hertz
  • 184 – countries providing TV coverage
  • 475W – Tom Dumoulin’s peak power in watts as he followed Quintana’s attack on the ascent of Jebel Hafeet on stage 3, as measured by Velon
  • 844 – the number of participants over the three days of the Abu Dhabi Tour Challenge at Yas Marina Circuit on 5, 12 and 21st February
  • 1,360km – covered by team cars involved in the race, 800km by the organiser’s cars
  • 1,500km – approx covered by the Publicity Caravan all across Abu Dhabi
  • 1,945 – students attending the hour-long class of the Educational project powered by Abu Dhabi Tour in collaboration with the Abu Dhabi Educational Council (Adec) in February. The initiative focused on familiarising students with the history of the bicycle, the benefits of cycling and road safety.
  • 2,122 – total accreditations printed
  • 2,315 – articles published online about the Abu Dhabi Tour from 23 to 26 February
  • 3,200 – the number of nights of accommodation booked for the whole Abu Dhabi Tour
  • 5,200 – T-shirts given away at the Official Fan Zone at Nation Towers
  • 13,400 – kg of team equipment delivered from 25 different nations
  • 35,000 – Abu Dhabi Tour Facebook fans, +27% compared to October 2016
  • 100,000 – The total of UAE Dirhams in vouchers offered by Giant’s distributor ‘Ride Bike Shop’, during the raffles at the Fan Zone in Nation Towers and every day both at the start and the finish
  • 125,000 – views for the most successful Facebook post: the stage 2 highlights, with Marcel Kittel’s late burst to beat Caleb Ewan and Mark Cavendish

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