Abu Dhabi-based cyclist Roisin Thomas will embark on a gruelling 472km cycle across the seven emirates of the UAE on Wednesday morning.
The 28-year-old is the first women to cycle around the seven emirates having completed the challenge last year in just under 16 hours.
Starting at 5am, Thomas will set off from Abu Dhabi before cycling through Dubai, Fujairah, Umm Al Quwain, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah and Sharjah, and then finishing up in Nad Al Sheba.
She leads a team of five who will stop every 50km for hydration and rest breaks as they attempt to finish the ride in record time.
“The whole idea came from being stuck in the same routine for too long. I was cycling a lot and it got a bit monotonous, so I decided why not do something different, something extraordinary,” said Thomas.
“Nobody had done it before, certainly no women has done it before. It was a huge commitment, to say that you are going to do it, you have to commit it, even though you go through stuff that takes away your confidence from being able to complete it.”
“You have to be confident in yourself and believe in yourself. I just want to inspire people, it certainly inspired a lot of people to start cycling after last year’s challenge. I love cycling and I want to be able to share the passion that I felt. I wanted to let people know that when you commit to something, go through with it, don’t say something and then be flaky.”
The other riders supporting Roisin are Raslan Abbadi of Jordan, Ahmed Al Haj of UAE, Andrew Laity of England and Rener Kabayan of the Philippines.
Hailing from Achill in the west of Ireland, Thomas has emerged as one of the region’s best female cyclists since arriving in the UAE nearly three years ago.
Competing with the Besport team in the capital, Thomas was pedaling up to 650km a week, but has since cut down to a more specific 400km a week programme that covers sprinting and climbing.
Earlier this year, she won the #ridetoabudhabi fastest lap and the Spinney’s Dubai 92 Cycling Challenge – a win that subsequently earned her qualification for the UCI World Championships in August.
In February, she attended a two-week training camp with Astana professional team in Italy, gaining a vital insight into how the elite riders train.
“It was an experience that you could never buy. To be able to train at a level with professional riders was incredible, going into the mountains riding 120-140km a day,” she added.
“It was very routine which I liked. It’s very team orientated. Your under strict rules with regards getting up, eating, training and resting. It was a fantastic experience.”
Thomas and her strong team of riders are expected to finish at Nad Al Sheba on Thursday morning around 2am.
Slovenian Jan Polanc conquered the prestigious Giro d’Italia fourth stage to Mount Etna on Tuesday as Luxembourg’s Bob Jungels took the race leader’s pink jersey.
Climbing specialist Polanc, who races for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) team, was part of a four-man breakaway that pulled free early in the 181 km ride from Cefalu.
Despite being left on his own for the last 16 km of the 18.1 km climb to the summit, Polanc held on to solo over the finish line in just over 4hr 55min.
Jungels, of Quick Step, takes over the race lead from teammate Fernando Gaviria, a sprint specialist who was left trailing early on the ride to Europe’s highest active volcano.
Speaking seconds after the stage finish, the stage winner Jan Polanc said: “It’s amazing. Probably nobody expected the breakaway to succeed. We were only four guys to make it work and we didn’t have a big gap for the last climb. It was probably the hardest day of my life. I’m very happy. To repeat the victory I got in 2015 in the first mountain stage is wonderful.”
The new race leader Bob Jungels said: “I didn’t really believe Fernando Gaviria when he said I’d take the Maglia Rosa over from him. It’s always a dream but you have to be a bit lucky. The team did a great job. We had be clever. I would like to keep the jersey for longer than last year but we have a big stage on Sunday at the Blockhaus. It will be more for true climbers like Quintana but I hope to stay in the lead as long as possible.”
1 – Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates) – 181km in 4h55’58”, average speed 36.693km/h
2 – Ilnur Zakarin (Team Katusha Alpecin) at 19″
3 – Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) at 29″
1 – Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors)
2 – Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) at 6″
3 – Adam Yates (Orica – Scott) at 10″
The curtain was drawn on stage two of the 100th Giro d’Italia with UAE Team Emirates’ Italian rider Roberto Ferrari crossing the finish line in second place.
It was an impressive display by the 34-year-old in the hilly stage from Olbia to Tortoli, as he finished behind Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal), who claimed the top position on the podium and leads the general classification.
Jasper Stuyven (Trek – Segafredo) ended his day just behind in third place.
Speaking afterwards, Ferrari said: “This was a tricky sprint that definitely gave an unexpected result. My legs felt great and I am pleased placing second. After I was part of the lead group I gave my best to remain at the front of the bunch sprint.
“I’m very satisfied with my results and the great performance of the entire team in the climbs and descents. We are looking forward to tomorrow where we are aiming to have another top result.”
1 – Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) – 221km in 6h05’18”, average speed 36.298km/h
2 – Roberto Ferrari (UAE Team Emirates) s.t.
3 – Jasper Stuyven (Trek – Segafredo) s.t.
1 – Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal)
2 – Lukas Postlberger (Bora – Hansgrohe) at 4″
3 – Caleb Ewan (Orica – Scott) at 8″
Stage three is a shorter 148km ride, best suited for sprinters.
It starts in Tortolì and finishes in Cagliari for the fourth time in the Giro’s history. The final 10km has a number of roundabouts which may impact the breakaway group but the home stretch of 800m with wide asphalt roads are likely to make for a good sprint finish.