Tour de France champion Chris Froome excited to headline UAE Tour cycling race in 2019
Six-time Grand Tour winner will go head-to-head with rival Vincenzo Nibali in February 24 to March 2 race
Chris Froome headlines the inaugural UAE Tour, which has drawn all 18 World Tour teams and two UCI Professional Continental sides for the February 24 to March 2 race.
Froome, a six-time Grand Tour champion and four-time Tour de France winner, will compete in the Emirates for the first time. The Team Sky rider will go head-to-head with his rival, the Italian Vincenzo Nibali, who has four Grand Tour titles to his name.
“The UAE Tour would be a fantastic world event, with team time trial and two uphill finishes as well," Froome said in a video clip played at the tour's unveiling at Yas Marina Circuit on Thursday. "It will be a nice way to start the season.
"I very much looking forward to that race,” the British rider added.
Early confirmations have also come from Dutchman Tom Dumoulin, last year’s Abu Dhabi Tour winner and UCI Road World Champion, the Spaniard Alejandro Valverde; 2018’s most successful rider and Dubai Tour winner, the Italian Elia Viviani; UCI Time Trial World champion, Australia's Rohan Dennis; and double Dubai Tour champion and winner of stages at all three Grand Tours, sprinter Marcel Kittel of Germany.
“It is a very nice race especially at the beginning of the year, and it is good to relax and go through a competitive race," Dumoulin said in the video clip. “I liked the Abu Dhabi Tour and I think it will be exactly how the UAE Tour will be.
"I’m really looking forward to it.”
The UAE Tour is the product of a merger between the Dubai Tour and Abu Dhabi Tour. The race includes seven stages across all seven emirates and covers a distance of 1,090 kilometres. There is also a significant elevation gain of 4,500 metres – mostly in stages three, four and six.
“It’s the result of years of effort, passion and commitment," Abu Dhabi Sports Council general secretary Aref Al Awani said about the fruition of the UAE Tour on Thursday, "and this is definitely what we’ve been striving for."
Saeed Hareb, Al Awani's counterpart at Dubai Sports Council, added: “We now have a tour that should challenge every kind of rider, and it involves all seven emirates. This was always our dream.
"I am confident we can become an important appointment in the world cycling calendar and keep growing as a sporting event as well as developing the fan base,” Hareb added.
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Stage 1: The 16-kilometre Adnoc Stage starts on Abu Dhabi’s Al Hudayriat Island. It is the first ever Team Time Trial opening the Middle East World Tour race.
Stage 2: The Abu Dhabi Stage consists of 184km, starts on Yas Island and passes through Khalifa Port, the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the Corniche before finishing at the Big Flag.
Stage 3: Al Ain Stage (177km) starts at Al Ain UAE University before arriving at the tour's first peak – the 1,025m Jebel Hafeet.
Stage 4: The longest stage of the tour – 205km – is a tribute to the classic Dubai Tour 'Queen Stage', starting from The Pointe at Palm Jumeirah to the Hatta Dam.
Stage 5: The Sharjah Stage (181km) runs from Flag Island to Khor Fakkan.
Stage 6: New features are packed into the 180km stage when – for the first time – the peloton rides along Jebel Jais and negotiates a 20km uphill finish.
Stage 7: The 145km Grand Finale, a spectacular parade entirely in the city of Dubai, starts at Dubai Safari Park and finishes at the City Walk district.
Red Jersey – General Classification: Worn daily from Stage 2 by the leader of the classification by time.
Green Jersey – Points Classification: Worn daily from Stage 2 by the fastest sprinter, who has obtained the best positions in each stage and intermediate sprints.
White Jersey – Young Rider Classification: Worn daily from Stage 2 by the best young rider born after January 1, 1994 in the overall classification. This Under 25 rider is usually the one to watch out for in the future.
Black Jersey – Intermediate Sprint Classification: Worn daily from Stage 2 by the rider who has gained more intermediate sprint points than any other rider.
Updated: December 20, 2018 04:14 PM