An amazing start list at the Abu Dhabi Tour, the only Middle Eastern race in the UCI WorldTour calendar. 17 of 18 UCI WorldTeams accepted the invitation from the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, including riders such as the winner of last year’s Giro d’Italia; the Dutchman Tom Dumoulin; the Spanish Grand Tour winner Alejandro Valverde, the Italian climber Fabio Aru; the winner of 2017 Abu Dhabi Tour Rui Costa; the winner of last year’s Abu Dhabi Tour White Jersey for Best Young Rider, Julian Alaphilippe as the General Classification (GC) contenders. Most of the world’s best sprinters will also be at the start, with Mark Cavendish, Marcel Kittel, Elia Viviani, André Greipel, Caleb Ewan and Alexander Kristoff fighting for stage victories.
Rui Costa (POR - UAE Team Emirates)
Born in Póvoa de Varzim, Portugal, 5 October 1986, Rui Costa is an all rounder with an impressive palmares that includes the 2013 UCI Road World Championship, three stage wins at the Tour de France and three General Classification victories at the Tour de Suisse, along with numerous one-day podiums. Last year Rui Costa won the Jebel Hafeet stage and the General Classification at the Abu Dhabi Tour.
Mark Cavendish (British Isles - Team Dimension Data)
Cavendish was born on 21 May 1985 in Douglas, Isle of Man (British Isles). “Cav” has won 15 stages at the Giro d’Italia, a mighty 30 at the Tour de France, and three at the Vuelta a España. In 2011, in Copenhagen (Denmark), he became UCI Road World Champion, and boasts one-day-race successes such as Milano-Sanremo (2009) and the National Road Race Championships. In 2016 Mark won the gold medal with Bradley Wiggins in the Madison at the Track World Championships; he took the opening stage of the Tour de France in a sprint finish at Utah Beach and put on the maillot jaune for the first time; then he won the silver medal at the Rio Olympic Games in the Omnium. Cavendish has won three stages and two consecutive Green Jerseys at the Abu Dhabi Tour.
Tom Dumoulin (NED - Team Sunweb)
Born in Maastricht, Netherlands, 11 November 1990, Dumoulin found notoriety in his early career as time trial specialist before emerging as a great all-rounder. Last year he became the first Dutch cyclist ever to win the Giro d’Italia and, later that season, both the World individual men's time trial and the World team time trial Championships. His palmares features stage wins in all three Grand Tours (three at the Giro d’Italia, two each at the Vuelta a Espana and the Tour de France), and a silver medal at the Rio’s Olympic Games. With the addition of a time trial to this year’s Abu Dhabi Tour, and considering his good climbing skills, Tom is one of the biggest favourites for the General Classification.
Alejandro Valverde (ESP - Movistar Team)
Valverde, born 20 April 1980, is one of the most successful riders in the peloton with 90 pro wins since his debut in 2002 with the Kelme - Costa Blanca team. His palmares includes four Liège-Bastogne-Liège (2006, 2008, 2015, 2017) victories, five at La Flèche Wallonne (2006, 2014-2017), nine stages and one GC at the Vuelta a España and two editions of the Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian (2008 and 2014). Last year El Bala (‘The Bullet’) was out for almost six months after suffering a broken kneecap sustained in a Tour de France crash. He has already claimed a victory in 2018: stage two at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana.
Fabio Aru (ITA - UAE Team Emirates)
Born in San Gavino Monreale, a town in Sardinia, Italy, 3 July 1990, Fabio Aru is a climber and the overall winner of the 2015 Vuelta a España. He took to the Giro d’Italia podium in both 2014 and 2015, and was runner-up in the General Classification at the inaugural Abu Dhabi Tour. Last year, Aru wore the Tour de France’s Yellow Jersey for the first time and got a stage win at La Planche des Belles Filles. This is his first season with the UAE Team Emirates.
Miguel Ángel López (COL - Astana Pro Team)
Miguel Ángel López was born February 4, 1994 in Pesca, Colombia. He is one of the most talented riders in the peloton. Since 2014 he has won the 2016 Tour de Suisse, two stages at the 2017 Vuelta a España and the 2016 Milano-Torino.
Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA - Bahrain-Merida)
A highly experienced rider from Policoro, Italy, born 30 November 1982, Pozzovivo is a pure climbing specialist. His achievements include a stage at the 2012 Giro d’Italia and the General Classification at the Giro del Trentino the same year.
Julian Alaphilippe (FRA - Quick-Step Floors)
Born 11 June 1992 in Saint-Amand-Montrond, France, Alaphilippe is one of the riders to watch in the 2018 season. Since 2015 he won the General Classification at the Tour of California (2016), one stage at the Vuelta a España (2017) and was runner up at Il Lombardia (2017), La Flèche Wallonne (2015 and 2016) and Liège-Bastogne-Liège (2015). At last year’s Abu Dhabi Tour Julian was the winner of the White Jersey for Best Young Rider.
Ilnur Zakarin (RUS - Katusha-Alpecin)
Born on 15 September 1989 in Naberezhnye Chelny, Russia, Zakarin is a talented all rounder who has won a stage at the 2015 Giro d’Italia, one at the Tour de France a year later and the National Time Trial Championship twice. Ilnur was runner up at 2017’s Abu Dhabi Tour.
Alexander Kristoff (NOR - UAE Team Emirates)
Kristoff, born 5 July 1987, is current UEC European Road Champion and his biggest victories are the 2014 Milan-Sanremo and the 2015 Tour of Flanders. His palmares includes two stages at the 2014 Tour de France and two national Road Race Championships (2007 and 2011). At last year’s UCI World Road Championship in Bergen, the Norwegian finished second behind Peter Sagan.
Marcel Kittel (GER - Katusha Alpecin)
Born on 11 May 1988 in Arnstadt, Germany, and a professional rider since 2011, Kittel’s palmares includes 86 victories, with one stage at the 2017 Abu Dhabi Tour alongside 19 Grand Tour stage wins (four at the Giro d’Italia, 14 at the Tour de France – five of them being in the 2017 edition – and one at the Vuelta a España).
André Greipel (GER - Lotto Soudal)
Greipel, born in Rostock, East Germany, 16 July 1982, is one of the best sprinters of his generation, with a powerful physique which has earned him the nickname “The Gorilla”. He has won 11 stages at the Tour de France (2011-2016), seven Giro d’Italia stages (in five different editions), and four at the Vuelta a España. André has won the Tour Down Under GC twice, in 2008 and 2010. Of his 149 wins since turning professional, two of them came this January, the first and sixth stages at the Tour Down Under.
Caleb Ewan (AUS - Mitchelton-Scott)
Born in Sydney, Australia, 11 June 1994, Ewan is a talented sprinter who claimed 11 professional victories in his first season, including a stage at the Vuelta a España on his Grand Tour debut. Caleb was in superb form in 2017 too, having won four stages at the Tour Down Under, a stage at the 100th Giro d’Italia, three at the Tour of Britain and the final stage at the Yas Marina Circuit in the Abu Dhabi Tour. In 2018 he has already won the second stage of the Tour Down Under.
Elia Viviani (ITA - Quick-Step Floors)
Viviani, born 7 February 1989, is one of the most accomplished sprinters in the peloton, having claimed 50 victories since turning pro in 2010. As well as being a talented road rider, Elia also has an admirable record on the track: five gold medals in the European Track Championships (Points Race in 2012 and 2013, Madison in 2014, Omnium in 2014 and 2015) and, in 2016, the gold medal at the Rio Olympic Games in the Omnium. In 2015 he won the Abu Dhabi Tour’s second and fourth stages and wore the Red Jersey as leader of the GC for one day. Last year’s wins include the Bretagne Classic - Ouest-France, and the Cyclassics Hamburg. Elia has already claimed few victories in 2018: stage three at the Tour Down Under and stage two, five and the General Classification at the Dubai Tour.