Abu Dhabi Tour 2017: Preview
Feb 20 2017 01:12 pm CET

Abu Dhabi Tour 2017: Preview
Abu Dhabi Tour 2017: Preview
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ABU DHABI TOUR

The attention of the cycling world will remain in the Middle East for another race, the only World Tour race that takes place in the region after the Tour of Qatar was suddenly cancelled: The Abu Dhabi Tour. Like the previous editions since its creation in 2015, it will feature four stages and, although it is a young race on the calendar, it will feature the presence of many of the top riders in the world.

The Abu Dhabi Tour has become a marked spot on the calendar for sprinters and climbers alike. It is interesting that, although only one climb will be faced in the entire race (the Jebel Hafeet Mountain at the end of the third stage), many teams will travel with strong climbers’ rosters commanded by their main leaders. This isn’t new since the two previous winners of the GC were climbers: Esteban Chaves in 2015 and Tanel Kangert last year.

That is why this year’s start list highlights some important names: defending champion Kangert arrives with a strong Astana squad which includes Fabio Aru, who is coming from Oman where he achieved the third place overall, as well as Dario Cataldo, Pello Bilbao and Paolo Tiralongo. Nairo Quintana will lead an equally remarkable roster of Movistar more focused on fast and classics riders like Alex Dowsett, Sasha Sutterling and Daniele Bennati.

Other important team leaders attempting the Abu Dhabi Tour are: Vincenzo Nibali who leads an equilibrated roster for Bahrain-Merida that features Niccolo Bonifazio, Janez Brajkovic and Franco Pellizotti; Alberto Contador continuing with his preparation for the Grand Tours and joined by Bauke Mollema and Peter Stetina among others, and AG2R’s Romain Bardet who will count on the support of teammates like Domenico Pozzovivo and Mathias Frank. Tejay Van Garderen, Tom Dumoulin, Steven Kruijswijk, Rafal Majka and Roman Kreuziger are other important GC names that will contribute to the excitement on the climb to Jebel Hafeet.

At the same time, the finest sprinters are also included in the start list: Marcel Kittel, Mark Cavendish, Caleb Ewan and André Greipel will fight fiercely for the three flat finishes, but don’t put aside outsiders like Rudiger Selig (Bora Hansgrohe) who sprinted to the second place in Almería or the experimented Andrea Guardini (UAE Abu Dhabi) because they are capable of surprising the fastest guys and reach a podium spot in the sprints if the strongest teams such as Orica-Scott or Quick-Step Floors leave room for confusion in the last kilometer of a stage.

The first stage, that has been given the name of Emirates Motor Company Stage, will take place on February 23rd in Madinat Zayed and will cover 189 km across the desert with no climbing difficulties of any kind before returning to the same town. The second stage, named Nation Towers Stage, will be an urban stage going through most of the city of Abu Dhabi.

The third stage is called Al Maryah Island Stage and will cover 186km. It is categorized as a medium mountain stage although it features only one climbing difficulty on the finish line: the Jebel Hafeet, an 11km long climb with an average slope of 8 – 9%. The final stage is called the Yas Island Stage receiving the name from the F1 Yas Marina circuit located on the Island where the whole stage will take place. The peloton will race 26 laps of the circuit for a total of 147 km.

With the beginning of the spring classics season at the gates, this Abu Dhabi Tour will be an exciting prelude where the greatest sprinters will have plenty of chances to prove their strength while the best climbers of the world are going to accumulate kilometers of racing and getting in shape for the Grand Tours. There will be a lot of action and you won’t want to miss it.

By Marcelo Hernández
Image: Abu Dhabi logo





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