World time trial champion Bradley Wiggins and 2013 Tour de France champion Chris Froome may be headed to the UAE next February after their Team Sky was announced on Sunday as one of the teams set to compete in the second edition of the Dubai Tour.
Organisers released a list of 16 teams that will take part in the February 4-7 four-stage race, 10 of which are UCI ProTeams, the elite division in world cycling.
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Joining them will be four UCI Professional Continental teams, one UCI Continental in the form of SkyDive Dubai Pro Cycling Team, and a squad representing UAE national riders for the event’s national selection. America’s BMC Racing Team will be returning but without Dubai Tour defending champion Taylor Phinney, who is recovering from a broken leg, while the Astana crew – despite their recent doping woes – are confirmed along with their reigning Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali.
The Dubai Tour is jointly organised by Dubai Sports Council and Italian company RCS Sport, who are responsible for the Giro d’Italia and who recently announced they’ll be introducing a new end-of-season race, the Abu Dhabi Tour, next October.
Back for a second year, the Dubai Tour has been upgraded from 2.1 to 2.HC (above categorisation, from French hors catégorie) on the UCI Asia Tour calendar.
The inaugural edition last February started off with a time trial, which was won by Phinney, before sprint king Marcel Kittel ran away with the next three stages.
This year, organisers have opted to axe the time trial and have moved the race’s base from the Dubai World Trade Centre to the Dubai International Marine Club.
While the last edition was mainly decided in the opening time trial, the next one should be one for puncheurs (road cyclists specialised in rolling terrain with short and steep climbs).
In addition to three sprint stages, one stage will be finishing with short, sharp climbs with gradients of up to 14 per cent.
Cycling in the UAE received yet another major boost after a new professional stage race, the Abu Dhabi Tour, was announced yesterday.
The Abu Dhabi Tour, organised as a partnership between the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and Italian company, RCS Sport, will be a four-stage race taking place from October 8 to 11, 2015.
It is the second professional cycling race to come to life in the UAE within a span of two years, after RCS Sport – who are also responsible for the Giro d’Italia – and Dubai Sport Council held the first edition of the Dubai Tour last February.
The Abu Dhabi Tour will follow in the footsteps of its Dubai counterpart and will belong to the Asia Tour calendar, with a 2.1 categorisation.
The Dubai Tour had the same classification in its inaugural edition in February but has recently been upgraded to 2.HC (above categorisation, from French hors catégorie).
"We are proud to host and organise the Abu Dhabi Tour, which will show to the entire world the most prominent landmarks of the emirate of Abu Dhabi and will bring additional value to the world of cycle racing," said Aref Hamad Al Awani, the general secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council.
"This event is in line with the overall goal of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council to develop sport through events that reach the entire community, from the young to families, as cycling does.
"I would like to thank the Government of Abu Dhabi, which will be supporting this event and the growth of cycling by creating the infrastructure to encourage people to practice cycling as a healthy life style choice."
The route of the inaugural Abu Dhabi Tour will be announced in June 2015 and organisers say that a host of top world cycling teams and their leading riders will be coming to the UAE capital to compete for the race’s first crown.
"We are proud to advise and support the creation of the Abu Dhabi Tour under the guidance of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and the UAE Cycling Federation," said Lorenzo Giorgetti, the director of RCS Sports and Events JLT, a UAE-owned subsidiary of RCS Sport.
"This important goal is in line with RCS Sport’s strategy focused on extending its activities towards new international markets. I would like to thank the Abu Dhabi Sports Council for its contribution to growing the value of professional cycling by taking into consideration, since the beginning, all stakeholders’ expectations."
Over 1500 cyclists from around the region hit the streets of Dubai on Saturday for the fifth edition of the Spinneys Dubai 92 Cycle Challenge, the most popular mass participation cycle challenge in the Middle East.
The Spinneys Dubai 92 Cycle Challenge started in 2010, and now attracts cycling enthusiasts from all over the world for the 92km ride around the roads of Dubai.
Roman Van Uden (NZL) was the fastest finisher in the Challenge, taking just 2:01:05 to cover the distance. Claus Holm of Denmark, finished second in 2:01:08, with Talal Soder (UAE) crossing the line next in 2:01:04.
Holm was part of a group of ten Danish riders who were making their first trip to Dubai specifically to participate in the Spinneys Dubai 92 Cycle Challenge.
The fastest female finisher was Natasha Leask (NZL) in 2:05:59, with Nichola McDonald (GBR) finishing in 2:06:53 and Helle Bachofen Van Echt (DEN) in 2:11:12.
And in a special addition to the programme, two Junior Challenges were held on Thursday for Under 16 year old riders.
“Cycling in the UAE is growing so fast across all age groups, and this year the demand for under 16s to have their own race was overwhelming. We had over 150 kids participate in the rides, and this will definitely become a permanent feature on the programme from now on” said Donal Kilalea of the organising committee.
In the 15km ride for 7-10 year olds, Charlie Gould (GBR) finished fastest in 31:01, ahead of Zayd Turk (USA) and William Dodsworth (GBR) in the boy’s section. Charlotte Stoll (GBR) was fastest of the girls, with Holly Sievwright (GBR) and Abigail Allen (GBR) close behind.
In the 11-16 yrs section, Rashid Swaidan (UAE) was fastest over the 30km course in 50:29, with Khaled Makhrab (UAE) and Sancho Barcia (ESP) the second and third finishers. Chrissa Trump (RSA) crossed the line first in the girl’s event, in 1:01:29, ahead of Imogen Sylvester (GBR) and Cordel Trump (RSA).
“And this morning also saw the mini-rides for the under 6s, being run at Nad Al Sheba, which they thoroughly enjoyed. It’s great that cycling is so much fun for all ages, and really brings families and the community together” said Kilalea.
“We are very appreciative of the support and enthusiasm of the Dubai Sports Council, the RTA, the Dubai Police and the UAE Cycling Federation which has been critical to the success of the event. And we are of course very grateful to our sponsors and supporters: Spinneys and Dubai 92” .
All the details about the Spinneys Dubai 92 Cycle Challenge are on the Facebook page Spinneys Dubai 92 Cycle Challenge.