The Emirates is gearing up for the inaugural UAE Tour – the only Middle East event on the UCI’s WorldTour calendar – which will welcome some of the world’s top cyclists when it gets under way in Abu Dhabi on February 24.
The Tour – which sees the Abu Dhabi Tour and Dubai Tour combine into one week-long event – will boast an enviable line-up of cycling’s top superstars as all 18 UCI WorldTour teams have committed their best riders to the race, which will visit all seven emirates.
There will be two UCI Professional Continental Teams in the fray as well – American Team Novo Nordisk and the Russian Gazprom-RusVelo.
Some of the world’s finest riders will compete for the glittering new trophy, including the only two current professionals to have won all three Grand Tours.
Starting a UAE race for the first time, Briton Chris Froome, a six-time Grand Tour champion, will go head-to-head against his Italian rival Vincenzo Nibali, who boasts four Grand Tour titles so far.
Alongside them are such famous names as the 2017 Giro d’Italia winner and former UCI World Time Trial champion, Dutchman Tom Dumoulin; last year’s Abu Dhabi Tour winner and UCI road world champion, Spaniard Alejandro Valverde; 2018’s most successful rider and Dubai Tour winner, Italian Elia Viviani; UCI Time Trial world champion, Australian Rohan Dennis; and the double Dubai Tour overall champion and winner of stages at all three Grand Tours, German sprinter Marcel Kittel.
Other big names expected include: Richie Porte, winner of the 2019 Tour Down Under “Queen stage”; UAE Team Emirates’ new signing, Colombian sprinter Fernando Gaviria; exciting neo-pro Remco Evenepoel; Abu Dhabi Tour and multiple Grand Tour stage winner Caleb Ewan; Pole Michal Kwiatkowski, Dutchman Wilco Kelderman, Slovenian Primoz Roglic, and the Norwegian Alexander Kristoff, also of home town UAE Team Emirates.
Last year, at the Abu Dhabi Tour, spectators got a taste with the Individual Time Trial won by the future world champion Dennis. This year the hosting island is changed and the Team Time Trial will be staged at Al Hudayriat Island, a brand new leisure and entertainment destination.
The stage has a very fast course combining the two different cycle path loops of 5 and 10km, with straights punctuated only by two U-turns around km 3.
The road is perfectly flat, wide and with wide-angle turns that will enable the riders to keep a very high speed: expected speed averages are over 55km/h.
The riders will encounter strong winds and the smell of the ocean with the main landmarks of Abu Dhabi as their background. Only the first man across the finish line will wear the Red leader classification jersey, sponsored by Emirates.
What: UAE Tour
Where: UAE wide
When: February 24 to March 2
Visit: www.theuaetour.com for more information
Taking place on 1st-3rd March the event will provide a professional road cycling experience to an international field of over 250 amateur cyclists. Riders have the opportunity to explore the unparalleled beauty and hospitality of the Sultanate with the extreme challenge of high-altitude mountain riding. With entry closing soon, cyclists around the world are racing to sign up for the Middle East’s first-ever Haute Route event.
Former F1 champion and Leger co-founder, Jenson Button will also be riding Haute Route Oman as the official event ambassador. “I can’t wait to take part in Haute Route Oman on what will be my second visit to the country,” he said. “I’m thrilled to be returning to ride what looks like a challenging but stunning course. It will be great to share the experience with Omani cyclists, as well as those from the Gulf region and riders from all over the world,” he added.
Designed to highlight Oman’s natural beauty, the three-stage course will take cyclists 238kms with 5,500+ metres of climbing through the Hajar mountain range, on routes that will test stamina and skill with long, high-altitude, climbs and sweeping descents.Stage one begins at the Golden tulip – the top of Jebel Akhdar climb, (83.27Km, 3000M+) followed by stage two: Golden tulip – Al Hamra climb – Golden Tulip, (145.3KM & 2,300M+) and then stage three: Al Hamra – Misfat al Abriyyin, (9.3KM, 350M+).
The centrepiece of the Haute Route Oman experience is the brutal yet beautiful Jebel Akhdar – a 10.3% gradient climb that is not only one of the most formidable climbs in the world, but is also one of the most exclusive, as the road only opens for the professionals during the Tour of Oman. While the pros only venture halfway up ‘The Green Mountain’ Haute Route Oman will take riders up the winding roads to the summit of the climb and beyond.
In addition to riding the same roads registered riders will be treated like the professionals too, with expert rider services including motorcycle escorts, live timing, professional photography and post-stage meals. Participants will also be treated to a free set of bespoke Haute Route Omancycling jersey and bib shorts, courtesy of the event’s official clothing brand, Léger.
What: Haute Route Oman
Where: Al Hajar Mountain Range, Nizwa
When: 1st – 3rd March 2019
Contact: Register at hauteroute.org/events/overview/oman-2019
Emirati all-rounder Yousif Mirza heads to Europe with 11 of his team-mates in their first set of races for the 2019 season, as UAE Team Emirates take on Challenge Mallorca, a four day competition from January 31 to February 3.
Four seven-man teams will be guided by sports director Marco Marzano and technical assistant Paolo Tiralongo across four different one-day races.
The team for the Trofeo Ses Salines, Campos, Porreres, Felanitx on January 31 includes: Fabio Aru, Manuele Mori, Marco Marcato (all Italy), Alexander Kristoff, Vegard Stake Laengen (both Norway), Yousif Mirza (UAE) and Rui Oliveira (Portugal).
Riders competing at the Trofeo Andratx Loseta on February 1 are: Kristian Durasek (Croatia), Kristoff, Stake Laengen, Dan Martin (Ireland), Simone Petilli, Edward Ravasi (both Italy) and Aleksandr Riabushenko (Belarus).
The team for Trofeo de Tramuntana on February 2 is: Aru, Durasek, Martin, Mirza, Petilli, Ravasi and Riabushenko.
Finally the Trofeo Palma contingent on February 3 is: Durasek, Kristoff, Stake Laengen, Marcato, Mori and Oliveira.
Mirza said: “I can’t wait for this new season to begin. This will be year three of the amazing adventure of UAE Team Emirates, we improved a lot and we want to achieve better results.
“In the early races, my team-mates were very good in terms of results. My path in WorldTour cycling has been so exciting up to now, I’m becoming a better rider day after day thanks to the huge skills of the team’s management, staff and directors.
“It’s great to race in Mallorca with most of the top riders of the team, I’ll try to exploit the race in order to check my fitness and to support the team’s captains.”
“The Challenge Mallorca takes a certain importance given that we have 12 riders heading there,” said Marzano.
“Our objective is not just results, but to use the four days of racing to better understand how our winter training programme has improved the riders’ form.
“The 12 cyclists will rotate in the races, with five riders not competing each day but training under the guidance of our coaches instead. We are confident that this Mallorca trip will help us in our overall 2019 plan, which has already helped us achieve great results in Australia and Argentina.”