Al Ain, 26 February 2019 – مرحباً (Marhaban!) from Stage 3, the Department of Transport Stage, of the inaugural edition of the UAE Tour (24 February – 2 March 2019), the only WorldTour race in the Middle East. The first mountain stage of the race will face the “classic” climb of Jebel Hafeet.
The peloton, 139 riders strong, passed km 0 at 12:17.
During the stage, 36 points are the maximum available for the Green Jersey (180 left in the race) and 16 for the Black Jersey (80 left in the race). There are a maximum available of 16″ time bonuses too, 3″ in each of the two intermediate sprints and 10″ on the finish line.
Al Ain (12.00 – Start): Sunny 21°C. Wind: strong – 21kmh, SE.
Jebel Hafeet (16.30 – Finish): Sunny 20°C. Wind: strong – 21kmh, ESE.
Students from Al Nahyaniya school partecipating at the UAE Tour Educational Project by Mubadala on the Stage 3 signature podium
The Red Jersey, sponsored by the Emirates (General individual classification by time) – Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo – Visma)
The Green Jersey, sponsored by ADNOC (General individual classification by points) – Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates)
The White Jersey, sponsored by Nakheel (Best Young Rider born after 1 January 1994) – Laurens De Plus (Team Jumbo – Visma)
The Black Jersey, sponsored by Abu Dhabi Aviation (Intermediate Sprint Jersey Classification) – Stepan KuriYanov (Gazprom – RusVelo)
1 – Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo – Visma)
2 – Jos Van Emden (Team Jumbo – Visma) s.t.
3 – Laurens De Plus (Team Jumbo – Visma) s.t.
Stage 3 – DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT STAGE – Al Ain-Jebel Hafeet – 179km
The first of the UAE Tour’s two mountain stages follows another successful course familiar from the Abu Dhabi Tour. The route around Al Ain takes in many of the landmarks – including Al Ain Zoo, Al Qattara, Al Hili and Al Ain Oasis – goes up to Green Mubazzarah where the final climb of Jebel Hafeet begins, with its 10km that will make the first real selection of the race.
Final climb goes through a series of wide hairpins on a three-lane carriageway. Gradient around 8-9% with a maximum of 11% at 3km to go. Very short descent on the final km just before the last climb. Final straight on tarmac.
1 – AL AIN
A one and a half hour drive from Abu Dhabi city, Al Ain is one of the world’s oldest permanently inhabited settlements, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city abounds in picturesque forts and historic buildings that were all primarily erected to defend the city and protect its precious palm groves and many oases.
2 – UAE UNIVERSITY
United Arab Emirates University is the oldest university in the United Arab Emirates. It was established in 1976. The UAEU is an accredited research-based institution. Its alumni have provided the United Arab Emirates with ministers, diplomats, senior government officials, and business leaders. www.uaeu.ac.ae
3 – SHEIKH HAZZA BIN ZAYED STADIUM
The home of Al Ain FC, this 25,000-seat stadium is one of Al Ain’s tallest buildings and a recognizable landmark. The outer façade design of this stadium is inspired by a palm tree trunk, an integral part of the UAE’s heritage and culture. The stadium is part of a wider project, constructed in phases, which will ultimately include residential, commercial, and entertainment areas, as well as a luxury hotel and sports facilities.
4 – AL AIN ZOO
This 900 hectare park near the base of Jebel Hafeet is where visitors can see a large animal collection in enclosures that closely resemble their natural habitats. There are plenty of green public spaces for picnics and also playgrounds, a cafeteria and a train tour of the wildlife area. The Al Ain Zoo is home to over 4,000 animals, with at least 30% of its 180 species considered endangered. Conservation efforts have been strengthened by partnerships with San Diego Zoo, the Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden in Miami, and the World Association of Zoos & Aquariums. The Zoo also includes the Al Ain Safari experience. Magnificently positioned against the imposing backdrop of Jebel Hafeet, Al Ain Safari has been carefully crafted out of the desert environment. At 217 hectares it is one of the world’s largest man-made African Safaris and home to a range of native African animals and 2500 plants. Moreover, the zoo also is home to the Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre, an important education- al facility that combines knowledge and learning through interactive exhibits, multimedia and visual materials that have been specially designed by world-class experts and specialists.
5 – QASR AL MUWAIJI
The historic Qasr Al Muwaiji – birthplace of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE – has been restored to its former glory and reopened to the public as a museum and permanent exhibition. Located in the centre of Al Ain city, Qasr al Muwaiji is an impressive structure that has watched over the oasis for more than 100 years. Built in the early 20th century, this simple but striking building was originally used as a diwan (a council or seat of governance) and as a place for the community to congregate.
6 – AL AIN OASIS
In the heart of the city, the Al Ain Oasis has been opened as the UAE’s first curated UNESCO World Heritage site visitor experience. Spread over 1,200 hectares (nearly 3,000 acres) and containing more than 147,000 date palms of up to 100 different varieties, this impressive oasis is filled with palm plantations, many of which are still working farms. The cool, shady walkways transport you from the heat and noise of the city to a tranquil haven; all you will hear is birdsong and the rustle of the palm fronds. The site introduces visitors to the delicate oasis eco-system and the importance it has played in the development of the emirate. The oasis landscape of Al Ain is shaped by a complex shared water supply based on both wells and ‘aflaj’, the UAE’s traditional irrigation system. Al Ain Oasis has plenty of working examples of the falaj which have been used for centuries to tap into underground wells.
7 – AL JAHILI FORT
The picturesque Al Jahili Fort is one of the UAE’s most historic buildings. It was erected in 1891 to defend the city and protect precious palm groves. The former headquarters of the Oman Trucial Scouts, the force that protected the mountain passes and kept inter-tribal peace, it also served as a residence for the local governor. It is set in beautifully landscaped gardens, and visitors are encouraged to explore it.
8 – AL AIN PALACE MUSEUM
Located on the western edge of Al Ain Oasis, the Palace of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was built in 1937. It was converted into a museum in 1998 and opened to the public in 2001. The original structure comprised a private residence for the ruler and his family within a complex of courtyards. The architectural design and construction of Al Ain Palace is typical of historical buildings of the UAE. It features the characteristic ventilation structures that are designed to keep the buildings cool in the summer. Locally sourced and environmentally friendly building materials were used, including clay, adobe and plaster stones, as well as palm tree elements for roofing rooms, ceilings, doors and windows. The use of teak was later introduced in the renovation of the buildings.
9 – AL AIN NATIONAL MUSEUM
The oldest museum in the UAE, Al Ain National Museum was established in 1969 under the guidance of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Charting the history of Al Ain from the Stone Age through to the foundation of the UAE, the museum houses artefacts discovered in the many archaeological sites scattered throughout the region, including flint tools and arrowheads dating to the sixth millennium BCE. Divided into three main sections – Archaeology, Ethnography and Gifts, Al Ain National Museum offers insight into the local traditions and culture that have defined the region.
10 – AL MURABBA FORT
Situated near the Eastern Fort of Al Ain, Al Murabba Fort is the former police station from 1948. The three-storey tower was named after its almost square shape (murabba’ is Arabic for square). Nowadays the tower is open to the public and gives an impression of the architecture for government administrations in the Gulf region before the oil-era.
11 – AL QATTARA SOUQ
Dating back to the mid-20th century and founded by the late Sheikh Shakhbut bin Sultan Al Nahyan on the palm-lined road linking Al Ain’s Al Qattara and Al Jimi oases, the historic Souq Al Qattara has been renovated and re-opened. A traditional handicrafts market takes place here every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from October to May, encouraging local families to preserve and promote Abu Dhabi’s heritage through an active involvement in traditional craft production. The Souq is linked to the redeveloped Al Qattara Fort, now home to a popular arts center, featuring hundreds of modern exhibits, workshops, a café and a library
12 – AL HILI
Just 10km outside Al Ain (on the road to Dubai) the Hilli Archaeological Gardens combine both a public garden and the archaeological site with remnants of a Bronze age settlement (2,500-2,000 BC), which was excavated and restored in 1995. It is the source of some of the richest finds in the area, many of which are believed to be over 4,000 years old. Hilli is near Fossil Valley, an area rich in a variety of fossils dating back many thousands of years to when it was covered by sea.
13 – WADI ADVENTURE
The region’s first man-made white water rafting, kayaking and surf facility built in the foothills of the majestic Jebel Hafeet. The park’s 3.3 metre man-made surf wave is the world’s largest and its 1.7 kilometre kayaking channel network is the world’s longest. Bringing together water and adrenaline-filled adventure, Wadi Adventure makes a great day out for water sports enthusiasts and families. Lessons are provided by certified trainers for all levels of competency; guests can bring their own equipment, rent or buy gear from the resort’s shop.
14 – GREEN MUBAZZARAH
Strategically located at the feet of the Jebel Hafeet Mountains, Green Mubazzarah is home to a number of spending Chalets that make a great retreat away from the clamour of the metropolis providing guests with a deluxe lodging and intimate access to the great outdoors. Green Mubazzarah occupies part of the rocky mountain side and been landscaped with rolling grassy hillsides alongside streams, hot springs and waterfalls. Green Mubazzarah Chalets is less than a 40 minute-drive from Al Ain International Airport and 15 minute-drive from Wadi Adventure.
15 – JEBEL HAFEET
Rising 1,240 meters, Jebel Hafeet is the emirate’s highest peak, and the UAE’s second. This towering rocky mountain, which stands guard over Al Ain and borders Oman, is forged out of craggy limestone that has been weathered over millions of years. Significant fossil discoveries have been made in the area, which are vital pieces in the jigsaw on the city’s ancient history. Over 500 ancient burial tombs dating back 5,000 years have been found in the Jebel Hafeet foothills. Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with magnificent views over Al Ain.
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Photo Credit: LaPresse / Ferrari – Paolone