From left: Fabrizio D’Amico, Aref Al Awani, Osama Al Shafar, Saeed Hareb and Eissa Hilal Al Hizami, pose for a picture after the press conference.
Amir Naqvi, Sports Editor
With the hopes of reaching the level of Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana — the three Grand Tour events — the organisers of UAE Tour announced the dates of the second edition of the race on Monday.
The much-anticipated second edition of the only World Tour race in the Middle East – UAE Tour— will be held from Feb.23-29, 2020.
The inaugural UAE Tour, merger of Dubai and Abu Dhabi Tours, featured the highest quality field of competitors, produced an tremendously entertaining sporting spectacle and was won by Jumbo-Visma rider Primoz Roglic. Roglic also became the first Slovenian to win September’s Vuelta a Espana.
In the inaugural edition the seven-stage race started around Al Hudayriat Island in Abu Dhabi and finished in Dubai last year.
The second edition of the World Tour cycling race will retain many of the first event’s finest characteristics, and build upon this with even greater public involvement and a new route that will see the riders start with a dramatic send-off in Dubai before the intense competition culminates a week later in Abu Dhabi. Along the way the race will visit seven Emirates — Dubai, Fujairah, Ajman, Ras-Al-Khaimah, Umm-Al-Quwain, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah — showcasing the natural landscapes and other beautiful aspects of the whole UAE.
Aref Al Awani, Abu Dhabi Sports Council General Secretary, said: “The inaugural UAE Tour was a roaring success due to the exceptional teamwork of all the Emirates. Together, we planned and delivered a world-class event. But 2019 was just the beginning. The next step is to be more confident and consistent and to further involve the local community and to encourage more cycling fans from all over the world to join us.”
“Our long-term goal is for the UAE Tour to reach the level of Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana. We have the same riders who compete in these three races and we are confident the UAE Tour will achieve the same level one day in the future.”
All 18 World Tour teams were represented at the 2019 UAE Tour, with 140 riders competing and ranking amongst them such elite talent as former World Champions Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team), Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Ineos) along with other Grand Tour winners including Tom Dumoulin (Giro d’Italia – Team Sunweb) and Vincenzo Nibali (Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a Espana – Bahrain-Merida) and a global roster of top class riders such as Mark Cavendish, Caleb Ewan, Fernando Gaviria, Dan Martin, Tony Martin, Richie Porte and Elia Viviani.
Saeed Mohammed Hareb, Dubai Sports Council Secretary General, said: “The UAE Tour is the only UCI World Tour race in the Middle East and demonstrates perfectly how together we can host an elite sporting event and with it showcase our region to the world. It was an amazing accomplishment to be a part of the team staging the first UAE Tour and we know that for the second edition we have made developments to make it even more exciting.”
The 2020 UAE Tour will attract teams and riders of the same matchless calibre, with start lists to be announced closer to the event.
Eissa Hilal Al Hizami, Sharjah Sports Council General Secretary, said: “Along with our colleagues in the other Sports Councils, we, the Sharjah Sports Council, are proud of the new route which will show the beauty of all seven Emirates to cycle racing fans and other viewers right around the world, as well as the new initiatives in the 2020 UAE Tour that will make next year’s event even more thrilling. We are proud to be a team and grow the race together.”
While the full route details are yet to be unveiled, the second edition of the UAE Tour will feature a balanced course and is expected to cover more than 1000km with an elevation gain of more than 4500m – ideal for all-round General Classification riders while still presenting opportunities for sprinters and time trial specialists to fight for stage wins.
Osama Al Shafar, President of the UAE Cycling Federation, said: “The UAE Tour debut was really impressive, in terms of the quality of the competitors and the excitement of the racing itself, and in terms of the global exposure generated by television and the other media outlets. It was an amazing accomplishment to host an intense race with all 18 UCI World Teams. As the Cycling Federation, this WorldTour race represents the season’s highlight and we look forward to attracting even more riders and fans in 2020.”
Along with the world’s finest athletes fighting it out, the UAE Tour has inspired competitive cycling in many UAE citizens, and in bringing many visitors to the region, with more than 1,000 riders taking part in the four UAE Tour Challenges, demonstrating that the UAE is a leading cycling destination, not just for professionals but also for enthusiasts.
Other important community involvement included an Educational Project, presented by Mubadala, an initiative through which over 2,000 students have learned the benefits of cycling and road safety. Mauro Vegni, RCS Sport Cycling Director, said: “The reception of the first edition of the UAE Tour was highly positive, from riders and teams, from the viewers, the sponsors and from broadcasters worldwide.
“So we are delighted to share with you what we have been working on together since the end of last year’s race in preparation for 2020, with our new start and finish locations. I would like to thank our partners, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah Sports Council for their confidence.”
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