From 21st to 25th February 2018, the Middle East’s only World Tour race will change its formula from its previous four stages to five, with an additional stage and a new individual time trial the day before the Grand Finale on Jebel Hafeet.
To be more important, more international and more interesting; it’s these three things that the new Abu Dhabi Tour is focused on, and the 2018 edition perfectly encapsulates the aim of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC), organizer of the race in collaboration with RCS Sport under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Mark Cavendish is confirmed to participate, alongside some of the world’s best riders – who so far include: current Giro d’Italia champion Dutchman Tom Dumoulin from Team Sunweb, the Vuelta a España winner Italian Fabio Aru and 2017’s Abu Dhabi Tour winner, Portuguese Rui Costa both from UAE Team Emirates, among others. In addition, 17 of the 18 WorldTour teams are set to start – the vast majority of cycling’s elite teams, who together represent 15 different nations and all five continents. Meanwhile, the individual cyclists themselves will represent over 50 different nationalities as they ride from 21st to 25th February on this spectacular brand new route.
After three editions encompassing four stages, Abu Dhabi is set to unveil its new status with an extension that allows the organizers to better explore the Abu Dhabi territory, while reducing the impact of Jebel Hafeet’s ascent on the General classification.
This year, a short and fast Al Maryah Island-based individual time trial on day four will ensure the results are more uncertain with its uphill finish, ending in style, on Jebel Hafeet – a great opportunity to impact all the jerseys and the final overall race winner.
Al Maryah Island is confirmed as the Red Jersey sponsor, the most prestigious of the jerseys and worn by the leader of the General Classification by time. A warm welcome to Emirates Post, official supporter of the Green Jersey, worn by the leader of the General Classification by points. Alongside them, Abu Dhabi Sports Channel is set to sponsor the White Jersey, awarded to the best young rider born after 1st January 1993, and Etihad Airways will sponsor the Black Jersey for the Intermediate Sprint Classification.
“We’re working to make the race more appealing to fans and riders, and this upgrade represents a unique opportunity to make the challenge for the overall standings stronger and not only related to the mountain stage,” said H.E. Aref Al Awani, Abu Dhabi Sports Council General Secretary. He added, “In addition, we can better explore our territory and promote the country worldwide as a perfect destination for cycle tourists. I take this opportunity to thank His Highness Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council for his generous patronage of the Abu Dhabi Tour. My appreciation then goes to the Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council – His Highness Sheikh Nahyan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, then the Department of Municipal Affairs and Transportation, the Municipalities, the police and traffic departments of Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Madinat Zayed, the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, and of course, Mark Cavendish for being here today and since the very first Abu Dhabi Tour.”
Mark Cavendish, who attended the event, said, “Last season was horrible for me. I had a lot of health problems, but the one win I got was here in Abu Dhabi – a very special place for me and in certain terms, a second home for me and for my family too. Last year, I was very proud to wear the Red Jersey as leader at the end of stages one and two, and win the final Green Jersey for the second year consecutively. I hope to repeat that success in 2018 and to be on the final podium again.”
The first three stages are dedicated to the sprinters, one to the time-trial specialists and the all-rounders and one to the climbers or puncheurs. As with last year, the peloton will ride in the desert, among the oasis, by the sea, on the islands, around the landmarks of Abu Dhabi capital city and in the mountains. The 2018 Abu Dhabi Tour has a total length of 686.8km.
The opening stage, the Al Dhafra stage (189km) will take its now traditional route, starting and finishing in Madinat Zayed, and running entirely through the desert. New features are packed into stage two, the Yas Island stage (154km) starting from Yas Mall. Then riders and fans will discover a new area through Al Bahia and the Khalifa Port. The third stage, the Nation Towers stage (133km), will be a tour of the capital, featuring as many landmarks as possible and the probable bunch sprint will take place on Al Marina, close to the Big Flag. Day four, the Al Maryah Island stage (11.8km), is settled in Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi’s business and lifestyle destination, and is the very first Time Trial on the Abu Dhabi Tour agenda. It’s a simple route, with just two bends and a single U-turn, setting up an extremely fast and absolutely spectacular stage. The Grand Finale, on Sunday 25th February, delivers the mountain stage from Al Ain to Jebel Hafeet (Al Ain stage, 199km). It’s here that the climbers and puncheurs will fight for general classification with an uphill finish at an altitude of 1,025m.
Nation Towers, the luxury complex near the southern end of the Corniche, is confirmed as the official Abu Dhabi Tour Fan Zone. It will be open from 15 to 25 February (12pm to 8pm, Sunday to Wednesday; and 12pm to 11pm, Thursday to Saturday) with a venue dedicated to the sponsors and large screens for following the race action live.
Friday 15 February will start the Advertising Caravan activity of the 2018 Abu Dhabi Tour. The travelling promotional project will visit all the main Abu Dhabi landmarks over the following days. Then, during race days, the caravan, including specially branded promotional vehicles, will anticipate the riders on their route to the finish line, in a format similar to European Grand Tour events.
The Abu Dhabi Tour promotional activities also include an enriched formula of the successful Abu Dhabi Tour Challenge, and the already established children’s Educational Project.
The Abu Dhabi Tour Challenge
The new formula consists of three stages and three different competitions with the award ceremony to follow the last stage in the Yas Marina Circuit.
- The first stage will be in Jebel Hafeet, on Friday 2nd February, and is called “Gran Fondo”. It consists of two distances, 47 or 67km, partially on the same route of the final stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour. The “King of the Mountain” will be the one who climbs the last 7km of Jebel Hafeet in the fastest time.
- The second stage, “Yas Lap”, is on Sunday 11th February at the Yas Marina Circuit. The fastest man/woman on a single lap win the challenge. “Yas Lap” is linked with the StartYAS activity.
- The third stage, also at the Yas Marina Circuit, and on Tuesday 20th February, is called “Knock Out”: Competitors will face the challenge of a precise time limit within which to complete the first lap, and that time will be reduced each new lap. Riders who can’t complete the lap within the time limit will be eliminated.
More information and details about the Abu Dhabi Tour Challenge will follow in a dedicated press release.
A project powered by the Abu Dhabi Tour in collaboration with ADEK, the Educational Project reaches its third year of activity. The 2018 project follows the previous successful formula, consisting of hour-long classes created exclusively for the Al Dhafra, Abu Dhabi, and Al Ain schools, focusing on familiarizing students with the history of the bicycle, the benefits of cycling and road safety. A practical workshop will follow the theory section, and students will be invited to create custom designs for the cycling water bottles branded Abu Dhabi Tour, DOT (Department of Transport) and Abu Dhabi police. Thanks to the positive feedback from the first edition, more and more schools have agreed to host this special activity. During the whole of February, the Abu Dhabi Tour instructors are visiting 15 schools, involving about 1,500 students.
The jerseys are designed and made by the iconic brand Castelli and are cut in a close-to-the-body anatomical shape for maximum aerodynamic performance throughout the race, including when the peloton head into dusty crosswind sections.
Red Jersey presented by Ali Eid Al Mheiri, Executive Director of Mubadala Real Estate and Infrastructure
Red Jersey - General Individual Classification by time
The most prestigious jersey, the Red Jersey worn by the leader of General Individual Classification by time, will be sponsored by Al Maryah Island. Last February it was won by the Portuguese Rui Faria da Costa.
“We take pride in sponsoring the Red Jersey for the second time, and are pleased that Al Maryah Island is hosting Abu Dhabi’s very first Time Trial. Our commitment to the sports and health of our community is part of Mubadala’s wider vision for Al Maryah Island – being Abu Dhabi’s premiere lifestyle destination. We wish all of our participants the best of luck, and we look forward to the success of the Abu Dhabi Tour,” said Ali Eid Al Mheiri, Executive Director of Mubadala Real Estate and Infrastructure.
Al Maryah Island is Abu Dhabi’s business and lifestyle destination, home to Abu Dhabi Global Market, the world’s newest international financial center. Al Maryah Island is comprised of world-class commercial, hotel, retail, leisure, healthcare, and residential components, featuring Rosewood Abu Dhabi, Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi, The Galleria, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi and the upcoming Al Maryah Central.
Green Jersey presented by Obaid Mohammed Al Qatami, Acting Chief Commercial Officer of Emirates Post Group
Green Jersey - General Individual Classification by points
Secondly, in order of importance, it’s the Green Jersey, worn by the leader of the General Individual Classification by points, and sponsored by Emirates Post. It was won in 2017 by the Manxman Mark Cavendish.
Emirates Post Group is proud to partner with Abu Dhabi Sports Council and be part of the Abu Dhabi Tour’s fourth edition. Sponsoring the Green Jersey worn by the peloton’s fastest man reflects our commitment in delivering fast and reliable postal and logistical services,” said Obaid Mohammed Al Qatami, Acting Chief Commercial Officer of Emirates Post Group, who added: “The UCI WorldTour provides a platform for Abu Dhabi to convey the rich heritage and diverse culture of our great nation. And as the UAE’s leading postal provider, we aim to support our sports community in bringing our nation to the forefront through international sporting events such as this one.”
Emirates Post is the official postal operator for the United Arab Emirates.
White Jersey presented by Naser Yousef Alzaabi, Head of Government Relations at Abu Dhabi Media
White Jersey - Best Young Rider Individual Classification by time
The leader of the Best Young Rider Individual Classification by time, born after 1 January 1993, will wear the White Jersey, sponsored by Abu Dhabi Sports Channel, which is also confirmed as the race host broadcaster; last year the White Jersey was won by the Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe.
“We are glad to have the opportunity to sponsor the jersey for the individual classification of Best Young Rider at the prestigious Abu Dhabi Tour, presently the Middle East’s only WorldTour race. Abu Dhabi Sports Channel is committed to encouraging the field of sport across the UAE community as well as the wider region through comprehensive coverage utilizing the highest standards of broadcasting technology. We look forward to giving our full support for one of the foremost cycling events in the region” said Dr Ali bin Tamim, Director General of Abu Dhabi Media
Abu Dhabi Sports Channel is a UAE Arab channel, part of the Abu Dhabi Media Company.
Black Jersey presented by Patrick Pierce, Etihad Airways Vice President Marketing Partnerships
Black Jersey - Intermediate Sprint Classification
The Black Jersey, worn by the leader of the Intermediate Sprint Classification and won last year by the Austrian Patrick Konrad, will again be sponsored by Etihad Airways.
Etihad Airways Vice President Marketing Partnerships, Patrick Pierce, said: “We’re proud to support the Abu Dhabi Tour as one of our major partnerships for the 2018 sports calendar. Once again, this event is a tremendous opportunity to showcase the beauty, diversity and uniqueness of Abu Dhabi’s terrain and landmarks to prospective visitors across the world.”
Etihad Airways is the National Airline of the United Arab Emirates. Etihad Airways was established by Royal (Amiri) Decree in July 2003. It commenced operations in November 2003 and has developed into one of the fastest growing airlines in the history of commercial aviation. The airline seeks to reflect the best of Arabian hospitality – cultured, considerate, warm and generous – as well as enhance the prestige of Abu Dhabi as a centre of hospitality between east and west. Its goal is to be a truly 21st century, global airline, challenging and changing the established conventions of airline hospitality.
OFFICIAL SPONSORS OF THE 2018 ABU DHABI TOUR
- Jersey Sponsors
o Al Maryah Island - Red Jersey
o Emirates Post - Green Jersey
o Abu Dhabi Sports Channel - White Jersey
o Etihad Airways - Black Jersey
- Stage Sponsors
o Stage 2 - Yas Island (Miral)
o Stage 3 - Nation Towers (International Capital Trading)
o Stage 4 - Al Maryah Island
- Official Partners
o Mercedes Emirates Motor Company
o Abu Dhabi Aviation
- Official Suppliers
o Novo Nordisk
o Tag Heuer
o Al Ain Water
- Official Supporters
o Yas Cycle
o Wolfis Bike Shop
- Abu Dhabi Tour YouTube Channel
- Facebook page
- Twitter page
- Google+ Profile
- Instagram official