Valverde and Cavendish headline star-studded UAE Tour line-up - GulfToday

Valverde and Cavendish headline star-studded UAE Tour line-up

Amir Naqvi

UAE Tour

Saeed Hareb, Eisa Hilal Al Hezami and Aref Al Awani pose with the UAE Tour trophy after the press conference.

With Mark Cavendish, Rohan Dennis and 2018 World Champion Alejandro Valverde among the marquee list of riders, the route and jerseys for the second edition of the UAE Tour were unveiled at the Sharjah Academy for Astronomy, Space Sciences and Technology on Monday.

The only World Tour race in the Middle East, organised by the Dubai Sports Council, the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and Sharjah Sports Council, in partnership with RCS Sport, is scheduled to take place from Feb.23 to 29.

The 2020 UAE Tour’s seven stages will embrace all seven Emirates and covers a total distance of 1,177km with an elevation of around 3,500 metres, mostly concentrated into stages two, three and five.

Valverde, who finished as runner-up last year, Rohan Dennis, the two-time UCI Time Trial World Champion and stage winner at the 2018 Abu Dhabi Tour, and Giulio Ciccone, the 2019 Giro d’Italia Maglia Azzurra (King of the Mountain) have confirmed their participation.

“I will be competing once again this year. I really enjoyed my time in the UAE last year. It was a well-organised race and I hope to enjoy it as much this year as well and, hopefully, put on a better performance,” said Valverde, in a message relayed during the press conference.

UAE Team Emirates’ young Slovenian star Tadej Pogacar, winner of the 2019 Tour of California and third overall at the 2019 Vuelta de Espana, and a host of other renowned riders from around the world are taking part. Other prominent names to feature in the UAE Tour include Italian road champion Davide Formolo, Adam Yates, Wout Poels while some best sprinters to compete are Fernando Gaviria, Caleb Ewan, Dylan Groenewegen, Sam Bennett, Pascal Ackermann, and Arnaud Demare.

The 2020 edition of the UAE Tour offers a mix of technically different stages, open to all types of riders, with the all-rounders most likely to win the overall General Classification category.

The UAE Tour will begin from Zabeel Park in Dubai, the Marjan Island Stage (158km), which will be a flat opening stage to end in Al Marjan Island.

The second stage, the Dubai Municipality Stage, is the longest stage of the UAE Tour at 203km.

The following day, the peloton will start the third stage, the Sharjah Stage (198km), racing from Sharjah to Rafisah Dam with the Rafisah Dam to be climbed twice before the final ascent.

The fourth stage, the Dubai Stage, covers 171km between Dubai Design District and Dubai City Walk.

On the fifth stage, the peloton will start the Al Ain Stage (162km) from Al Ain before facing the Jebel Hafeet climb: with the finish at 1,025m after a 10.8km climb with a maximum gradient of 10 per cent and average slope of 5.4 per cent.

Feb.28 will host the penultimate stage, the ADNOC Stage (158km), starts from Al Ruwais and ends in Al Mirfa, where a bunch sprint is expected.

The Grand Finale delivers a spectacular parade entirely in the city of Abu Dhabi. The Abu Dhabi Stage (127km) starts at Al Maryah Island and finishes at the Abu Dhabi Breakwater with what is expected to be another bunch sprint.

Saeed Hareb, secretary general, Dubai Sports Council, said: “This year’s route of the UAE Tour will challenge every kind of rider and will crown the most complete rider who proves to be the strongest in the seven stages raced across all seven Emirates.

“It was our dream to have a world-class international cycling event which features the beauty and faces the riding challenges of all seven Emirates and, as the first edition already proved, the UAE Tour is establishing itself as an important appointment in the world cycling calendar. Moreover, this race represents a unique opportunity to show worldwide our country’s varied territories and reflect our goal to promote the seven Emirates beyond their borders through sport and especially cycling,” he added.

Aref Al Awani, general secretary, Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said: “I’m delighted to unveil the second edition of this wonderful race, following the successful 2019 inaugural edition. The UAE Tour is the result of years of effort, passion and commitment from many people.

“I especially want to thank the Dubai Sports Council, Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Sharjah Sports Council, along with our sponsors and partners. As the world is watching, we are poised to deliver another world-class sporting spectacle which will contribute to the development of cycling across all the seven Emirates.”

“The whole Sharjah cycling movement is proud of being part of this world-class event,” said Eisa Hilal Al Hezami, Sharjah Sports Council General Secretary.

“This year we will have one more stage that will be raced in the Emirate of Sharjah, compared to last year’s edition. Stages 2 and 3, with their finishes atop Hatta Dam and Rafisah Dam, will probably be very important for the General Classification of this second edition of the UAE Tour – with Stage 3 being the Sharjah Stage. I’m sure that the Sharjah Stage, and the entire UAE Tour, will produce many true sporting spectacles.”

Mauro Vegni, RCS Sport Cycling Director, said: “For the second year, together with the friends of the Dubai Sports Council, Abu Dhabi Sports Council and Sharjah Sports Council, we are presenting this international event, part of the UCI WorldTour calendar, with great riders at the start.”

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