Abu Dhabi Sports Council has completed preparations for the launch of the fourth UAE Tour from February 20-26 with the participation of 20 international teams, bringing together the world's renowned teams and professional cycling stars.
The UAE Tour is the only global race in the Middle East and represents the opening round of the 2022 season on the UCI’s calendar.
Headlining the star-cast field is the UAE Team Emirates’ Slovenian super-star Tadej Pogacar. The two-time Tour de France winner is back to defend his UAE Tour crown.
All participating teams arrived in Abu Dhabi on February 17 in preparation for their entry into a “health bubble” as part of precautionary measures in accordance with the approved safety standards protocol for international sporting events in the UAE.
They will start receiving team permits starting Friday, following which training will be conducted at the Al Wathba Cycling Track, on Saturday, from 10am to 2pm.
The official photo shoot of the world’s elite riders will take place at the Yas Marina Circuit at 4.30pm, followed by a press conference at 5pm.
The list of participants in the UAE Tour are: AG2R Citroen (France), Astana (Kazakhstan), Bahrain Victorious (Bahrain), Bora Hansgrohe (Germany), EF Education (USA), Groupama ( France), Enos Grenaiders (Britain), Intermarche (Belgium), Israel Premier (Israel), Team Jumbo-Visma (Netherlands), Lotto Soudal (Belgium), Movie Star (Spain), Quick Step Alpha Finney (Belgium), Team Bike Exchange (Australia), Team DSM (Germany), Trek-Segafredo (USA), Alpecin Phoenix (Belgium), Bardiani (Italy), Gazprom (Russia), and UAE Team Emirates (UAE).
The 20 teams will cover a total distance of 1,058km across seven stages representing a diverse mix of different terrains. The race route comprises four flat stages, two mountain stages, and a race against the clock.
The race route passes through most prominent landmarks in the country, alongside its geographical and natural landscapes in one of the biggest sporting events in the world.
Pogacar is one of the biggest stars and the UAE Team Emirates riders to watch. He’s joined by new teammates Joao Almeida, who finished fourth and sixth in the Giro d'Italia in the last two years, respectively.
This is Almeida's second participation in the UAE Tour, after he finished the last edition in third place in the overall standings.
Among the most prominent contenders for the title is the Briton Adam Yates, the Enos team rider who made his first appearance in the UAE Tour in 2020, the year in which the British rider outperformed Pogacar in the General Classification of the tour by just over a minute.
The fourth edition also sees the return of Dutchman Tom Dumoulin, the Jumbo-Visma team rider, who last participated in the UAE Tour in 2019. He is returning after a break from professional racing.
Dumoulin looks forward to a new start in 2022 to prove himself in one of the the big races of the season and building on the sixth place he achieved in the 2019 edition.
French DSM rider Romain Bardet makes his first appearance in the UAE Tour, seeking another achievement after podiums in two stages in the Tour de France and several wins in other major races.
Australian Guy Hindley, rider of the Bora Hansgrohe Team, is also looking forward to adding more experiences to his cycling career, knowing that he finished second in the Giro d'Italia and Tour de Bologna overall standings during his promising career.
The list include some of the world's elite sprinters, namely: Sam Bennett, Mark Cavendish, Elia Viviani, Dylan Groenwegan, Arnaud Demari, Jasper Philipsen, Filippo Gana and Stefan Bissegger.
The Irishman rider Bennett of Bora Hansgrohe, has eight stage victories, including two stages in last year’s UAE Tour.
He goes into the race with high ambitions and as one of the leading contenders for the sprint stages. He is set to face strong challenge from Cavendish (Quick Step), especially after the Briton won the Green Jersey in the Tour de France.
Rinsa Al Ariq has 52 stage wins and the title of world champion once during his career, but did not win first place in the UAE Tour in the two years in 2019 and 2020.
Veteran Italian Viviani (Enos Grenadines), who has had successes at the Giro d’Italia and France, is another rider of note. He won the Green Jersey in the UAE Tour in 2019.
Dutchman Groenwegan (Bike Extinguishing) returns to the UAE Tour for the second time. He made his first appearance in the race in 2020, posting a stage victory in that year.
The five-time winner of the Giro d'Italia, Demarie (Grupama) has great aspirations for the tour, having climbed to the podium at the top of the Hatta Dam in his first appearance in 2020.
Belgium’s Philipsen (Alpecin Phoenix) returns for his second participation in the competition. At 23, he has already achieved three stage victories in the Tour de Spain, and many podium finishes in the Tour de France.
In addition to a group of world-class riders, the UAE Tour has drawn time Trial specialists Filippo Gana (Enos) of Italy and Bissegger (EF Education).
The competition will be the most intense between the duo during the third stage to be held in Ajman, over a distance of 9km. Two-time world champion Gana managed to win at Al Hudayriat Island last year by 14 seconds over Bissegger.
Al Khaili: The Emirates Tour establishes inspiring sports and community foundations
His Excellency Dr Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Head of the Department of Community Development in Abu Dhabi, confirmed that the continuation of the UAE Tour is evidence of the successes it has achieved in the past years.
According to him, the success of the event reflects the confidence of international sporting organisations and federations in the role of the UAE in organising international sporting events with the utmost professionalism.
It also comes at a time when the world is facing challenges due to the Coronavirus pandemic, which the UAE has managed to succeed in overcoming in accordance with the highest level of medical safety procedures.
“The UAE has succeeded, through what it has provided in the past years, in confirming its competence and its prestigious position in hosting major sporting events,” Dr Al Khaili said.
“The UAE Tour, which has become one of the main cycling events in the global calendar of the International Cycling Union, and the curtain raiser event of the 2022 season.”
Dr Al Khaili explained that sport was vital in removing societal barriers related to religions or races, as it contributes to better integration of all segments of society, as well as to improving public health and the economy.
He expressed his confidence in the success of the next edition in light of the preventive measures taken by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and its great keenness to provide safety measures to ensure the participants’ well-being.
Al Rumaithi: The UAE Tour is a model of the country's success on the global sports scene
His Excellency Mohammed Thani Al Rumaithi, Vice Chairman of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, affirmed that the UAE Tour represents a distinctive model of national successes that have formed global echoes in the sports arena.
The UAE Tour, he said, reflects the position of the UAE and its global leadership in attracting the most important international events and events.
He expressed his belief in the country’s abilities to provide a solid infrastructure, organizational cadres, sports, tourism, economic and media progress.
“This fourth edition of the UAE Tour comes after the impressive success achieved by the state and the capital Abu Dhabi in hosting and organizing the Club World Cup, which was watched by millions around the world.
All these events were conducted in accordance with the highest safety standards approved by the competent authorities, to ensure the safety of all participants, organizers and fans.
“This confirms that the land of the Emirates is attractive to tournaments and is the capital of world sports, and the establishment of any event on the country's land ensures its global success,” he added.
“The UAE Tour in its next edition, and its diverse and new paths across seven stages, reflects the country's features and geographical terrain between mountains, desert, urban structures, and historical, cultural and tourist attractions.
“During the previous three editions, it succeeded in achieving significant gains in terms of community interaction with the event, in addition to media and promotional returns. It is very important and economic, which makes the expectations ceiling higher during the fourth edition.”
Al Rumaithi pointed out that the participation of an elite of 20 international teams in the Tour, represented by the best riders in the world, continues their efforts to make a qualitative leap in cycling, which in turn has witnessed great development in recent years, as evidenced by the increase in the number of practitioners of this sport, both at the level of amateurs or professionals of both sexes, and community activity that continues despite the conditions of the pandemic, and has become a healthy way of life.
He explained that the status that the UAE Tour has reached at the global level is the result of the professional organization that distinguished Abu Dhabi, and it has won the praise of the world and the International Cycling Union since the first edition.
Al Rumaithi praised the efforts of the volunteers and all those in charge of the event in order to bring it out in the appropriate and distinctive manner that Abu Dhabi is accustomed to in organizing sporting events, and emphasized that it is the capital of peace and security, and the country of tolerance and rapprochement between peoples.
The Emirates team aspires to continue their achievements
Al Yabhouni: The UAE Tour is a global event that enriches our country and its geographical diversity
His Excellency Mattar Al Yabhouni, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Abu Dhabi Cycling Club, said: “What distinguishes the Emirates Tour is that it is not only a global race, but is an integrated event in all aspects and represents a distinguished promotion of our beloved country and its deserts, valleys, mountains and cities.
“There are various scenes that you will rarely find in races which are similar to the richness and geographical diversity of our country, in addition to being at the top of civilization in terms of construction, roads, and so on.
“Our wise leadership has provided everything that would elevate the name of the nation, and we are proud of the support, care and attention it provides, and of the solid infrastructure that matches, if not surpasses, what is in the best countries in the world. Our youth have gained great organizational experience through the large amount of international sporting events hosted by our beloved country, as well as the Emirates Tour in particular.
“The success of the event is certain, and the preparations made by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council that took into account all the minute details make us sure of the value of the fourth edition of the Tour and its reflection in the competition of its predecessors in success and excellence.”
Al Yabhouni explained that great hopes have been placed on the UAE team, the representative of the nation, who won the last edition of the Emirates Tour and the Tour de France, to continue to achieve excellence in the nation’s name.
“We have an elite group of riders that we can count on to be on top by the end of the final stage and to be a strong presence in all seven stages of the Tour,” he added.