Race focus: stages suited to climbers and puncheurs
Breakaways, solo attacks and gaps in general classification are all expected on stages 3, the Department of Transport Stage; 4, the Dubai Municipality Stage and 6, the RAK Properties Stage. Here are the stage routes, the climb details and the favorite riders.
Abu Dhabi, 14 February 2019 – After the Team Time Trial and the stages dedicated to the sprinters, it’s time to discover the three UAE Tour stages that feature mountains.
We start on Tuesday 26 February with Jebel Hafeet, a stage that is well suited to both the climbers and the all rounders. It’s tailor-made for riders such as Alejandro Valverde, the World Champion who won here in 2018 on the Abu Dhabi Tour; for the Australian Richie Porte; the Pole Michal Kwaitkowski; and the UAE Team Emirates’ Irish rider, Dan Martin – just to name a few.
The following day, another Middle Eastern classic, the Hatta Dam stage. This long stage should not affect the General Classification as taking center stage are the ‘puncheurs’, such as the Swiss Michael Albasini (Mitchelton Scott), AG2R La Mondiale’s Frenchman, Tony Gallopin, and the Slovenian Primož Roglič (Team Jumbo–Visma), who give their best on medium mountain stages, with just short climbs.
For the last mountain stage, that features the debut of the Jebel Jais, the UAE Tour’s big names are set to go under the spotlight: Team Sky’s Chris Froome, Bahrain-Merida’s Vincenzo Nibali, and Team Sunweb’s Tom Dumoulin, together with Valverde and many other attacking riders wishing to ignite the race.
Tuesday 26 February
From UAE University to Jebel Hafeet
Start village: Al Ain – UAE University
Sign-on: 10:50 – 12:00
Alignment: 12:10 (2,000m Transfer)
Finish line: Jebel Hafeet – Estimated time: 16:40
For further information: https://www.theuaetour.com/stages/stage-3/
The first of the 2019 UAE Tour’s mountain stages follows a 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 are set to make the first real selection of the race. This is the route of the decisive stages for all five editions of the Abu Dhabi Tour, with unforgettable victories by Esteban Chaves, Tanel Kangert, Rui Costa and Alejandro Valverde – who all won the General Classification here. This year is different: Jebel Hafeet could be the first stage to set the tone for the General Classification, and determine who can fight for the podium.
Wednesday 27 February
From Palm Jumeirah to Hatta Dam
Start village: The Pointe – Palm Jumeirah
Sign-on: 10:10 – 11:20
Alignment: 11:30 (4,800m Transfer)
Finish line: Hatta Dam – Estimated time: 16:40
For further information: https://www.theuaetour.com/stages/stage-4/
The longest stage of the UAE Tour, this is another classic Emirates route, having been raced before as the most difficult stage of the Dubai Tour, and having remained virtually unchanged since the first edition of that race. Great riders like the German John Degenkolb, the Spaniard Juan José Lobato and the Italian Sonny Colbrelli have won at Hatta Dam. In 2019 only the start has been modified, departing from The Pointe, the relaxed retail and entertainment destination at the tip of Palm Jumeirah, just across the bay from Atlantis. The km 0 is in front of the Atlantis – where several Dubai Tour sprint stages have ended.
After the first part through the desert the route hits the Hajar Mountains. Here, the last hills from the gates of Hatta peak at the suffocating final tier of the Hatta Dam with its gradients that touch 17%.
Photo Credit: RAK
Friday 1 March
From: Ajman to Jebel Jais
Start village: Ajman
Sign-on: 10:45 – 11:55
Alignment: 12:05 (2,500m Transfer)
Finish line: Jebel Jais – Estimated time: 16:40
For further information: https://www.theuaetour.com/stages/stage-6/
For the first time a Middle Eastern cycling race will include Jebel Jais, the highest peak in the entire UAE territory. Part of the Hajar Mountains range, Jebel Jais is famous for the abundance of wadis, hiking and mountain bike trails – and more recently because it’s home to the world’s longest zipline. On Friday 1 March the road will be closed first for the UAE Tour Challenge (https://www.theuaetour.com/challenge/challenge-4/), the amateurs-only cycling championship, then for the decisive stage of the UAE Tour; the amateurs will finish 2 hours before the pros. Further information and road closure details will be published soon on www.theuaetour.com.
The RAK Properties Stage has a profile technically similar to Stage 3, being divided into two distinct parts. The first is a flat approach to the final climb, and the second is about 20km of continuous ascent until the finish line. After departure from Ajman, the route crosses Umm-al-Quwain heading towards Ras Al Khaimah, through Al Marjan Island and Mina Al Arab, as the race heads directly to Jebel Jais Mountain. The final 20km climb averages at 5%, and is generally constant with only slightly higher gradients of around 7% in the last 2km.
Haitham Mattar, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, said: “We are very excited to feature Jebel Jais, one of the UAE’s most iconic natural landmarks and home to the world’s longest zipline, as part of the UAE Tour this year. Our beautiful emirate offers the ideal terrain to enjoy this incredible sports event with stunning natural landscapes and pristine beaches. We are confident participants will be impressed with the contrast between modern cities and the beautiful natural landscapes of the UAE. Sports and adventure tourism is key to Ras al Khaimah’s tourism development strategy and the UAE Tour is an important addition to our rich sports events portfolio.”
Photo Credit: UAE Tour