Adam Yates and Tadej Pogacar ride on the climb of Jebel Hafeet at the 2020 edition of the UAE Tour.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
Fresh from his Tour de France victory, Tadej Pogacar will again go head-to-head with UAE Tour winner Adam Yates at the UAE Tour. The UAE Tour will open the cycling season with the first UCI World Tour race taking place from Feb.21 to 27.
The UAE Tour race organisers, Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Dubai Sports Council and RCS Sport announced the first round of riders set to compete in the third edition of the race.
All 19 UCI World Teams have committed to riding the one and only World Tour race in the Middle East. Among those competing for the race leader’s Red Jersey will be UAE Team Emirates rider Tadej Pogacar, winner of the 2020 Tour de France.
Racing at the start of a breakout 2020 season, Pogacar finished second place in the previous edition of the UAE Tour, narrowly beaten by Red Jersey winner Adam Yates in the General Classification. The young Slovenian rider now returns for his second UAE Tour, hoping to better the stage victory and White Jersey he secured last time round.
Last year’s winner Yates, who recently joined the British Ineos Grenadiers outfit, will again pit himself against Pogacar in his second consecutive appearance at the race. The previous year saw Yates take Stage 3 atop Jebel Hafeet, only for his Slovenian rival to win round two at the same summit finish two stages later. A close finale left just one minute and one second between the two riders in the General Classification.
This year’s Red Jersey battle won’t be fought solely between Pogacar and Yates however. Among multiple GC riders soon to be announced, four times Tour de France winner Chris Froome has confirmed his attendance at the 2021 UAE Tour.
The British rider, who recently completed a move to the Israel Start-Up Nation team, will be hoping to begin the new season on fine form as he continues his spirited comeback from injury.
Away from the GC fight, time trial ace Filippo Ganna makes his UAE Tour debut this February, following a sensational 2020 season in which he took four stage victories at the Giro d’Italia and an ITT World Champion’s Rainbow Jersey.
Swiss rider Marc Hirschi will also ride the race for the first time. The 2020 Tour de France stage winner and Road World Championship Bronze medalist at Imola will be keen to impress after signing for UAE Team Emirates at the start of the new year.
The UAE Tour’s well-earned reputation as a sprinter’s ‘world championship’ has also attracted Lotto Soul’s Caleb Ewan, who will ride the race for the third year in a row after taking the Green Jersey in 2020’s edition and two wins from two on the iconic Hatta Dam uphill finish. Racing alongside him at the first WorldTour event of the season will be UAE Tour stage victor and Tour de France Green Jersey winner Sam Bennett of Deceuninck - Quick-Step, also riding his third edition.
Also confirmed is last year’s opening stage winner Pascal Ackermann (Bora - Hansgrohe), who will look to repeat his success as he returns for his second UAE Tour this February, and Colombian sprinter Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates), a stage winner in the race’s first edition.
Mathieu van der Poel, from UCI ProTeam Alpecin-Fenix will also be in attendance for the first time, having confirmed his participation in the UAE Tour last week.
Details of the strict COVID-19 protocols designed to ensure the safety of all riders, staff and everyone involved in the race will also be released shortly.
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