Six stars from the pro peloton spoke to the media in a press conference at Colnago Abu Dhabi this afternoon ahead of the start of the 2023 UAE Tour, organised by Abu Dhabi Sports Council and taking place from 20-26 February.
Taking questions from the media were the following world-class riders:
Mark Cavendish (Astana Qazaqstan Team) is the reigning British Champion and has a glittering history in the UAE, having taken seven victories in his five previous visits.
Current World Champion Remco Evenepoel (Soudal–Quick-Step) is back for the first time since 2019 and will be among the pre-race favourites. Still only 23, the Belgian already lists Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Vuelta a España victories on his impressive palmarès.
Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates) is another GC favourite who is making his debut appearance for UAE Team Emirates. He won this race in 2020, including a stage win on Jebel Hafeet, and has finished second in the two previous editions.
This year's race will feature a world-class list of sprinters and Dylan Groenewegen (Team Jayco AlUla) is among the best in the business having taken two stage victories in his three previous visits to the UAE.
Elia Viviani (INEOS Grenadiers) will also be on the hunt for stage wins at this year’s race. The Italian first rode the UAE Tour in 2019, taking a stage victory and the sprinter’s Green Jersey. He also won the 2018 Dubai Tour.
Pello Bilbao (Bahrain - Victorious) returns to the UAE 12 months after securing third place in the General Classification, largely due to his hard-fought, third-placed finish on Jebel Hafeet.
Read on for press conference quotes from the riders. The official start list is now available and can be downloaded above.
Mark Cavendish (Astana Qazaqstan Team):
"I'm delighted to be back at the UAE Tour once again. It's a very important race for sprinters in particular, one there's no other race in the world where we're all going head-to-head at the same time. It's important for me on a personal level as well, the UAE is like a second home to me and as well as coming here, I also hope to leave with some stage victories."
@Sprint Cycling Agency
Remco Evenepoel (Soudal–Quick-Step)
“After my first participation in the UAE Tour in 2019, I feel happy to be back. I’m happy the team let me do this race. The first big day will be the team time trial on Tuesday in which I hope not to lose much time, although we’d prefer to take some time, but it will not be easy. With Tim Merlier, we have a good chance to win a sprint. Our goal is at least one stage win and do a good GC for me.”
Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates):
“Obviously, for our team the UAE Tour is a big objective. Personally, it has gone well for me here in the past few years. I’m happy to be back in the UAE. Every year I come, I see new bike paths, which is fantastic for the country, and for us. We have a super strong team and a few more riders who are also able to win the race, like Jay Vine, who already won the Tour Down Under, and Marc Soler.”
@Sprint Cycling Agency
Elia Viviani (INEOS Grenadiers):
"All the top sprinters are here so it's going to be a big challenge for me over the next seven days. My team has a good mix of youth and experience, and some good GC riders too. I hope to be in the mix in each of the sprint stages. As for the team, it will be important to not lose too much time early in the race, and especially in the team time trial, because we're expecting a close battle on Jebel Hafeet."
Pello Bilbao (Bahrain - Victorious):
“I’m delighted to come back to the UAE after my good experience here last year where I finished third overall. I want to repeat that and we’re here to fight for the podium. We have a strong team. The UAE Tour is a race I really enjoy. We never know when will be the right moment to make a selection but I hope to be up there on the last day on Jebel Hafeet.”
@Sprint Cycling Agency
Dylan Groenewegen (Team Jayco AlUla):
"We've had a really good start to the season and got a stage win in the Saudi Tour, so we are looking forward to the UAE Tour now. Hopefully we can get a win but it will be hard. I have a strong team around me and hopefully we can do it."
The 2023 UAE Tour will be broadcast all over the world.
Host broadcasters Abu Dhabi Sports and Dubai Sports will produce a two-hour live international feed for every stage, and also provide local cycling fans in the UAE and in the whole MENA region with full live coverage of the event. This includes the team presentation before each stage every pedal stroke in the race accompanied by both Arabic and English commentary.
Eurosport will broadcast live across South East Asia and Europe. In Europe, the event will also be covered by RAI in Italy, RTBF and VRT in Belgium. NOS in the Netherlands and SRG in Switzerland.
The coverage in Sub-Saharan Africa will be provided by SuperSport, while J Sports will be the official broadcaster in Japan, and DirectTV will air the race in South America.
Traditional broadcast distribution will be complemented by the live streaming services of GCN and GCN+, with a grand total of 207 countries reached.