Route and riders
Route and riders
The Dubai Tour kicks a hat-trick of races in the Middle East on Wednesday February 4, as the pro peloton heads to the deserts of Dubai, Qatar and Oman.
Though the WorldTour doesn’t resume until March, having started with Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) crowned champion of the Tour Down Under, strong fields are expected at all three races, with the Dubai Tour welcoming a number of big-name riders for its second edition.
After Taylor Phinney won last year’s inaugural edition, one of the newest race’s on the cycling calendar has been modified and has no time trial this time out.
A sprint-friendly route will give the likes of Mark Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep), John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) and Team Sky new boy Elia Viviani the chance to test their legs, while the overall race could well be decided on the uphill finish of the Hatta Dam and bonus seconds could prove critical.
Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), last year’s world number one Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) have also been named on the provisional start list.
Stage one of the race is pan-flat, concluding with four laps of an 8.2km ‘Union Flag’ circuit, with coastal crosswinds the only thing likely to stop the sprinters taking charge.
Stage two is a similar fare, with a finish on the iconic palm island – where last year Giant-Alpecin mastered the crosswinds to hit the front and deliver Marcel Kittel to victory.
Nibali, Valverde and co will then go wheel-to-wheel on stage three – an undulating 205km stage billed as medium-mountain by the organisers and concluding atop Hatta Day, where the final 200m rises up at a 17 per cent gradient. The GC men will have to rid themselves of the sprinters on the final climb as time bonuses could otherwise come into play to settle the overall classification.
A city stage concludes the race in the shadow of the Burj Khalifa, where the fast men will enjoy one final chance to test their sprinting legs.
Though yet to be confirmed, organisers RCS Sport have released the provisional eight-man squads of the 16 teams set to take part, with a strong line-up expected on the Emirate.
Who could shine at the 2015 Dubai Tour? Here are five of the big names to look out for.