A Team Time Trial on the first day, three stages dedicated to sprinters, one for puncheurs and two for climbers.
All 18 WorldTeams start, with many of the best riders on the planet: the winners of 11 Grand Tours, Chris Froome, Vincenzo Nibali and Tom Dumoulin; both the reigning Road and Time Trial World Champions, Alejandro Valverde and Rohan Dennis; and world class sprinters Elia Viviani and Marcel Kittel.
The Red, Green, White and Black jersey are sponsored by Emirates, ADNOC, Nakheel and Abu Dhabi Aviation.
Abu Dhabi, 20 December 2018 – After five successful years as the Dubai Tour and the Abu Dhabi Tour, the brand new, combined, UAE Tour was officially unveiled today at the Yas Marina Circuit. The only WorldTour race in the Middle East, organized by Dubai Sports Council, Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Sharjah Sports Council, in partnership with RCS Sport, is scheduled from 24th February to 2nd March 2019.
The inaugural UAE Tour’s seven stages will embrace all seven United Emirates. The first three stages will be hosted by Abu Dhabi, the fourth by Dubai, Sharjah and Ras-al-Khaimah, the fifth stage crosses Sharjah, Ras-al-Khaimah and Fujairah, the sixth is in Ajman, Umm-al-Quwain and Ras-al-Khaimah, while the final stage sees a return to Dubai. The 2019 UAE Tour has a total distance of 1,090km with a significant elevation gain of around 4,500 metres, mostly concentrated into stages three, four and six.
18 WorldTour teams plus two UCI Professional Continental Teams are set to start. With each team comprising seven riders, a total of 140 athletes will line up at Al Hudayriat Island for the opening stage Team Time Trial. Among them are some of the world’s finest riders including the only two current professionals to have won all three Grand Tours: six-time Grand Tour champion Chris Froome, the Briton – starting a UAE race for the first time – goes head-to-head with his rival the Italian Vincenzo Nibali boasting four Grand Tour titles so far.
Alongside them are such famous names as the 2017 Giro d’Italia winner and former UCI World Time Trial Champion, Dutchman Tom Dumoulin; last year’s Abu Dhabi Tour winner and UCI Road World Champion, the Spaniard Alejandro Valverde; 2018’s most successful rider and Dubai Tour winner, the Italian Elia Viviani; the UCI Time Trial World Champion, Australian Rohan Dennis; and the double Dubai Tour overall champion and winner of stages at all three Grand Tours, the German sprinter Marcel Kittel.
The new race is a mix of technically different stages, open to all kind of riders, with the all-rounders most likely to win the overall General Classification category. It starts on Sunday 24th February in Abu Dhabi’s Al Hudayriat Island with the ADNOC Stage (16km), the very first (and very fast) Team Time Trial opening the Middle East WorldTour race.
The second stage, the Abu Dhabi Stage (184km), will be a tour of the capital, starting in Yas Island and passing through Khalifa Port, the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the Corniche before finishing at the Big Flag.
The following day, the peloton will start the Al Ain Stage (179km) from the Al Ain UAE University before facing the first UAE Tour peak: the 1,025m Jebel Hafeet, which features a maximum gradient of 11%.
February 27th sees the fourth and longest stage of the UAE Tour, the Dubai Municipality Stage (205km). Its route is a tribute to the classic Dubai Tour “Queen stage”, starting from The Pointe – Palm Jumeirah and finishing with the short, sharp rise of Hatta Dam, climbing 200m on gradients ranging from 12% to a maximum of 17%.
The next day, the Sharjah Stage (181km), runs from Flag Island to Khor Fakkan and is likely to culminate in a bunch sprint.
New features are packed into the sixth day, the RAK Properties Stage (180km), when, for the first time, the peloton will ride among the Jais Mountains. 150km after km 0 in Ajman, the climbers and puncheurs will fight for general classification on the 20km-long uphill finish of Jebel Jais, with its 5% average gradients.
The Grand Finale, on Saturday 2nd March, delivers a spectacular parade entirely in the city of Dubai. The Dubai Stage (145km) starts at Dubai Safari Park and finishes at the City Walk district with what is expected to be a bunch sprint.
UAE Tour Route Video
H.E. Aref Al Awani, Abu Dhabi Sports Council General Secretary, said: “I’m very glad to unveil such a wonderful race today. It’s the result of years of effort, passion and commitment, and this is definitely what we’ve been striving for. The world’s eyes are on us and we are ready to deliver a world-class sporting spectacle and an unforgettable event. Thanks to the Dubai Sports Council, Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Sharjah Sports Council, and to our sponsors and partners, we’ll meet this challenge in style.”
“We now have a Tour that should challenge every kind of rider, and it involves all seven Emirates! This was always our dream. I am confident we can become an important appointment in the world cycling calendar and keep growing as a sporting event as well as developing the fan base,” said H.E. Saeed Hareb, Dubai Sports Council Secretary General.
“Being part of this world-class project is a milestone for the Sharjah cycling movement. The two stages Sharjah is involved in are really interesting: stage four ends in Hatta and the course is a well established Middle East cycling icon. And I’m sure that the following day’s Sharjah Stage will match up to this very high standard,” said H.E. Eisa Hilal Al Hezami, Sharjah Sports Council General Secretary.
The UAE Tour jerseys will be provided by one of the cycling industry’s leading brands, Castelli, the supplier for both the Dubai and the Abu Dhabi Tours. The four different jerseys are made using a high-tech fabric supplied by SITIP that is both UV-protective and allows for a very rapid rate of heat dissipation. There are four colours, one for each classification, starting with the most prestigious: red, for the leader of the general classification. All four jerseys will be assigned starting from the end of Stage 1.
The UAE Tour Red Jersey is presented on stage by Mohammed Alnahari Alhashmi, Emirates Corporate Sales Manager Dubai
General Classification: worn daily, starting from Stage 2, by the leader of the General Classification by time.
Mohammed Alnahari Alhashmi, Emirates Corporate Sales Manager Dubai, said: “Emirates is pleased to sponsor the inaugural edition of the UAE Tour, as the Official Sponsor of the race’s Red Jersey, the most prestigious jersey worn throughout the Tour by the leader of the general classification. We believe our support of the UAE Tour over the next few years will boost the UAE’s position as a world-class venue on the global stage of cycling offering a scenic terrain that is unique in its own right. Emirates has been supporting UAE Team Emirates over the last two years, which has drawn attention to the national team as they compete in some of the most prestigious races around the world. Our support with the UAE Tour will also help grow the sport here in the country, and this competition is a great opportunity to connect with cycling enthusiasts in our own home base.”
The UAE Tour Green Jersey is presented on stage by Omar Suwaina Al Suwaidi, ADNOC Executive Office Director
Points Classification: worn daily, starting from Stage 2, by the fastest sprinter, who has obtained the best positions in each stage and intermediate sprints.
Omar Suwaina Al Suwaidi, ADNOC Executive Office Director, said: “At ADNOC, we’re always supporting partners and driving initiatives that positively impact the UAE, strengthen the fabric of the Abu Dhabi community and celebrate the pride of our people. Building on the success of the ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon, the UAE Tour enables ADNOC to deepen its support of healthy and active lifestyles, while further solidifying our nation’s position as a globally renowned, multicultural sporting destination, warm in our welcome of those looking for a place of respect, inclusion and tolerance.”
The UAE Tour White Jersey is presented on stage by Aqil Kazim, Nakheel Chief Commercial Officer
Young Rider Classification: worn daily, starting from Stage 2, by the best young rider born after 1st January 1994 in the overall classification (U25), the name to watch out for in the future.
Aqil Kazim, Nakheel Chief Commercial Officer, said: “Our sponsorship of the White Jersey for UAE Tour 2019 follows four consecutive years as a Stage Sponsor of the Dubai Tour, and highlights our commitment to supporting this world class event. One of the most prestigious competitions in the global sporting calendar, it is a unique platform from which to showcase the UAE and its world-famous landmarks to millions of spectators, whether they are watching live on the course or through media across the globe. The UAE Tour takes in some of the country’s most beautiful, iconic locations, including our own flagship development, Palm Jumeirah. We are honoured and proud to be on board, and wish the Abu Dhabi and Dubai Sports Councils, RCS Sport and all of the competitors every success with the UAE Tour.”
The UAE Tour Black Jersey is presented on stage by Arwa Al Kindi, Abu Dhabi Aviation Board Member
Intermediate Sprint Classification: worn daily, starting from Stage 2, by the rider who gained more Intermediate Sprint Points than any other rider.
Sponsor: Abu Dhabi Aviation
His Excellency Nader Ahmed Al Hammadi, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Aviation, said: “It’s a privilege to be part of the 2019 UAE Tour. Abu Dhabi Aviation always aims to support sports and athletes, and has been taking part in these events for a number of years. Abu Dhabi is witnessing a significant shift in the international championships it’s hosting, which comes from the directives of HH President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, and HH Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, may god bless them both.”
Alongside the “Top Sponsors” of the four jerseys (Emirates, ADNOC, Nakheel, Abu Dhabi Aviation) gratitude is expressed towards these other brands who are supporting the 2019 UAE Tour:
The “Stage Sponsors” are ADNOC, Dubai Municipality, Sharjah Sports Council, RAK Properties, while the “Host Broadcaster” will be Abu Dhabi Sports Channel and Dubai Sports.
The “Official Partners” are Yas Island, Audi Al Nabooda, Castelli, Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Tag Heuer, Oakley. The “Official Supporters” for the 2019 edition are Wolfis Bike Shop, Cycle Hub, Yas Cycle.
This year the UAE Tour’s Official Fan Zone will be shared between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, at City Walk and Yas Mall, respectively. As usual, the Fan Zones will be dedicated to sponsors, entertainment activities, street food and large screens for following the race action live. More information and details about the UAE Tour Fan Zones will follow in a dedicated press release. The UAE Tour’s promotional activities include the UAE Tour Challenge – an enhanced formula based on the successful Abu Dhabi Tour Challenge – and the already established children’s Educational Project.
The updated format of the amateurs-only championship will consist of four cycling races scheduled between January and March. The amateurs can follow in the footsteps of their favorite riders as they compete on the very same stretches of roads.
The UAE Tour Challenge’s first race will be held in Abu Dhabi, at Al Hudayriat Island – the new leisure and entertainment destination which offers two different cycle path loops of 5 and 10km. The 16km Individual Time Trial (ITT) is scheduled here for Friday 25 January.
The second race is planned for the following week (Friday 1 February) in the environs of the city of Al Ain. The course is a tribute to the classic Abu Dhabi Tour “Queen stage” with the finish line at 1025m above sea level after 11km of climbing featuring maximum gradients of 11%. There is a choice of two distances: 47km and 67km.
The third stage is scheduled two weeks later, Wednesday 13th February, in Dubai, and its details will be unveiled soon.
The last day will see the amateurs face the highest mountain of the UAE territory, Jebel Jais. The course, hosted entirely by Ras Al Khaimah, consists of 46km racing, following a 13km neutralised warm-up, where participants will ride all together until the km 0. Then the challenge will start with 25km of flat course followed by 21km of climbing.
Just like the pros, the amateur racers will compete in three different classifications: by time, by points and UAE National category by time. Each classification leader will wear a special jersey. Time: a red jersey; for Points, it’s green; for the UAE National category, the leader has a white jersey.
The new Educational Project will consist in an hour-long workshop created exclusively for UAE schools focusing on familiarizing students with the history of the bicycle, the benefits of cycling and road safety. In the last three years, almost 4,000 children between 8 and 12 years old, and from 30 different schools in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Dhafra attended the Educational Project. Thanks to the new UAE Tour, in 2019 the project will also be extended to several schools from the other Emirates. The activity will start at the end of January.
Photo Credit: LaPresse and Christophe Viseux