Dubai: Cycling fans from Abu Dhabi to Ajman are in for a treat this week as the greatest riders from around the globe descend on the UAE for the inaugural UAE Tour.
It is a sight not to be missed as all 18 UCI World Teams will be present and — despite the late withdrawal of Team Sky’s six-time Grand Tour winner Chris Froome — spectators will get the chance to cheer on the likes of four-time Grand Tour champion Vincenzo Nibali, 2017 Giro d’Italia winner Tom Dumoulin, UCI World Champion Alejandro Valverde, and a host of the best sprinters on the planet including Elia Viviani, Marcel Kittel and UAE Team Emirates’ Alexander Kristoff.
In a ground-breaking initiative, jointly created by the Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah Sports Councils, the UAE Tour will visit all seven emirates — taking in the iconic sights in places such as Umm Al Quwain, Hatta and Jebel Jais, as well as familiar closely fought contests in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and to the top of Jebel Hafeet in Al Ain.
Outside of the Grand Tours — the Tour de France, Vuelta A Espana and Girl D’Italia — rarely do you get a chance to see so many of the biggest riders in one place.
This goes to show the meticulous planning that has gone into making the UAE Tour one of the biggest and — hopefully — best race events in the world.
The previous incarnations of the cycling tours here — namely the Dubai tour and Abu Dhabi Tour — have already proved popular among competitors and fans, with plenty of dramatic sprint finishes, gruelling grinds in the mountains and bone-crunching crashes. More of the same can be guaranteed this time around with three stages dedicated to the climbers, three for the sprinters and a team time trial in Al Hudayriat Island in the capital to kick things off on Sunday.
With seven stages, the UAE Tour will take its place near the top in terms of duration and mileage (a whopping 1,082 kilometres), but the stellar cast is what will truly put it on the map, not just with the UCI, but with fans around the world.
So grab your sun cream, hat and shades because, no matter where you are in the UAE next week, the best athletes on two wheels will be visiting a stretch of tarmac near you.