World Champions set to battle at UAE Tour

There’s a new week-long WorldTour stage race starting on Sunday 24 February – but it has a familiar look: the inaugural UAE Tour combines the best of the Abu Dhabi Tour and Dubai Tour into one big Middle Eastern race – and it’s attracted a top tier start list of riders keen to test and show their early season form.

On the seven-stage race – with a route that includes all seven Emirates – the riders will face an opening Team Time Trial, three sprinter stages and three mountain stages, including uphill finishes. So there’s opportunities for stage wins for all different rider styles and a genuine GC battle to be played out.

Wednesday 27th’s Stage 4 features the Hatta Dam climb – with gradients touching 17% – and all eyes will be on the GC competition for Friday 1 March’s Queen Stage in the Jais Mountain region, before Saturday’s sprint finale in Dubai’s glittering Citywalk.


Four strong squads

The big teams are sending the big riders: Movistar Team lead with World Champion Alejandro Valverde, no stranger to Middle Eastern racing, having won the last edition of the Abu Dhabi Tour. El Bala’s support includes the Costa Rican all-rounder Andrey Amador, experienced Italian rider Daniele Bennati and Portuguese chronoman Nelson Oliveira.

Team Sky are led by former World Champion Michał Kwiatkowski and 24-year-old Italian TT champion, Gianni Moscon, for whom Team Sky have high expectations this year. The UAE Tour is the first race of 2019 for both riders. Multiple Grand Tour winner Chris Froome had been expected to lead, but is recuperating after his efforts supporting Egan Bernal and Ivan Sosa in Tour Colombia. In Kwiatkowski they have a great all-rounder replacement. Their support includes Salvatore Puccio, Pavel Slavokov and climber Kenny Elissonde.

Team Jumbo-Visma will look for a strong start on the TTT, with their seven-man team including TT specialists Tony Martin and Jos van Emden. GC lead Primož Roglic has support from the young Laurens De Plus and the experienced pair of Tom Leezer and Paul Martens.

25-year-old Pierre Latour leads an all-French AG2R La Mondiale team. A mainly youthful squad is bolstered by the experience of 38-year-old Sam Dumoulin. And can fans expect a galloping breakaway from Tony Gallopin? We hope so…

We look forward to see all these riders and more showing what they’ve got in the newest WorldTour fixture, 24 February to 2 March.