Cycling-UAE Tour
A peloton of UAE Tour passes by as the camels keep a watch in 2019 edition of the event. Image Credit: Supplied photo

Dubai: Top-ranked Alpecin-Fenix will lead all of the world teams into next month’s UAE Tour – the opening round of the UCI World Tour 2021.

Joint organisers Abu Dhabi Sports Council and Dubai Sports Council have announced that the strong field for this year’s opening race will see Aplecin-Fenix, the 2020 season’s top-ranked UCI Pro Team, lead the challengers when the race is held over seven stages from February 21-27.

This will also be the first time-ever that all 19 World Tour teams have committed their participating at the third edition of the UAE Tour.

READ MORE

This year’s edition will see the riders start and finish in Abu Dhabi, while competing over seven diverse stages that showcase the unique landscapes of the UAE.

Fans across the globe can look forward to again witnessing a tremendously entertaining sporting spectacle with the 20 UCI Pro Team populating the provisional start list. The opening two editions of the annual race had worthy winners in Primož Roglič and Adam Yates, respectively. And this time too will be no different as the race has attracted an exceptionally strong roster of riders.

Last year’s general classification leader’s Red Jersey was won by Yates after the British rider bested 2020 Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar by 1.1 minute in the overall standings. The young Slovenian, who later became an overnight celebrity after clinching the Tour de France, had come up with an impressive display that saw him take victory on Stage 5 atop Jebel Hafeet - a 10km long ascent that peaks over 1,000m above sea level.

UAE Team Emirates' Tadej Pogacar is second in the Tour De France
UAE Team Emirates will be looking to build on a phenomenal 2020 season, which included Tadej Pogacar's triumph in Tour de France. Image Credit: AFP

Initially scheduled to take place between February 23 to 29, the second edition of the UAE Tour was cut short heading into the penultimate stage after two staff members of one of the teams tested positive for COVID.

In response, the local authorities quarantined and tested all participants, including riders, organisers and team members while cancelling the last two stages of the race. The varied climbs that have featured in the first two editions of the UAE Tour have provided world-class team leaders with exciting opportunities to showcase their form.

The race’s flatter stages have proved to be a sprinter’s paradise, meanwhile, offering fast finishes for the world’s best sprinters including: Caleb Ewan, Sam Bennett, Pascal Ackermann, Elia Viviani and Fernando Gaviria.

Further details of the 2021 UAE Tour teams and riders will be announced in the coming weeks, closely followed by the announcement of the race route. 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.

The UAE Tour was first held in 2019 as part of the UCI World Tour after authorities in the UAE decided to merge the Abu Dhabi Tour and Dubai Tour.

The 2021 UCI World Tour will consist of a series of races that will include 33 road cycling events throughout the season. The tour will start with the opening stage of the UAE Tour on February 21 and conclude with the final stage of the Tour of Guangxi on October 19.

Provisional List of Teams: AG2R Citroen Team; Astana – Premier Tech; Bahrain Victorious; Bora-Hansgrohe; Cofidis; Deceuninck-Quick-Step; EF Education – Nippo; Groupama – FDJ; Ineos Grenadiers; Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert Materiaux; Israel Start-Up Nation; Jumbo-Visma; Lotto Soudal; Movistar Team; Team Bikeexchange; Team DSM; Team Qhubeka Assos; Prek-Segafredo; UAE Team Emirates; Alpecin-Fenix.