With all the 18 WorldTeams at the start, some of the best riders on the planet are expecting to fly to the Emirates.
Chris Froome, Vincenzo Nibali, Tom Dumoulin, Alejandro Valverde, Rohan Dennis, Elia Viviani and Marcel Kittel are confirmed to race but other big names are also likely to attend, including Richie Porte, Michał Kwiatkowski, Wilco Kelderman, Remco Evenepoel, Primoz Roglic, Caleb Ewan and the UAE Emirates duo Fernando Gaviria and Alexander Kristoff.
UAE Tour Top Riders Photo Gallery
Abu Dhabi, 28 January 2019 – The inaugural UAE Tour – the only Middle East event on UCI’s WorldTour calendar – will boast an enviable line-up of cycling’s top superstars as all 18 UCI World Teams have committed their best riders to the seven-day race, which will be flagged off on 24 February and visit all seven emirates.
Some of the world’s finest riders will compete for the glittering new trophy, including the only two current professionals to have won all three Grand Tours. Starting a UAE race for the first time, Briton Chris Froome, a six-time Grand Tour champion, will go head-to-head against his Italian rival Vincenzo Nibali, who boasts four Grand Tour titles so far.
There will be two UCI Professional Continental Teams in the fray as well – American Team Novo Nordisk and the Russian Gazprom-RusVelo.
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.
Alongside them, other big names are expected: the Australian Richie Porte, winner of the 2019 Tour Down Under “Queen stage”; UAE Emirates’ new signing, the Colombian Fernando Gaviria; the exciting neo-pro, Belgian Remco Evenepoel; the Abu Dhabi Tour and multiple Grand Tour stage winner, Australian Caleb Ewan; the Pole Michał Kwiatkowski, Dutchman Wilco Kelderman, Slovenian Primož Roglič, and the Norwegian Alexander Kristoff.
AG2R Prévoyance joined the Chazal-Vanille et Mûre team (formed in 1992 by Vincent Lavenu) as co-partner in 1997 and became principal partner three years later. Over 400 wins to date, 25 of them earned at Grand Tours: 18 at the Tour de France, five at the Vuelta a España, and two at the Giro d’Italia. 15 victories in 2018 include two stages at the Vuelta a España with Alexandre Geniez and Tony Gallopin.
Astana is part of the Astana President’s Professional Sports Club, formed in 2012 by the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, N.A. Nazarbayev. Astana’s palmares includes an Olympic gold medal (Alexander Vinokourov, now General Manager, won the Men’s Road Race, London 2012), eight Grand Tour victories and 41 Grand Tour stage wins. Last year Astana Pro Team recorded 30 wins, including two stages at the Tour de France with Magnus Cort and Omar Fraile and two northern classic races with Michael Valgren (Amstel Gold Race and the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad).
Founded in 2016, Bahrain – Merida is a team supported by a consortium of businesses and partners from the island of Bahrain and His Highness Sheikh Nasser. In the first two seasons Bahrain-Merida achieved 38 wins, including Il Lombardia (2017) and Milano Sanremo (2018), the Italian Monument races with Vincenzo Nibali, two Grand Tour stage wins (Nibali at the 2017 Giro d’Italia, Matej Mohorič at the 2018 Vuelta a España) and other prestigious victories such as the Gran Piemonte (Sonny Colbrelli) and the the Binck Bank Tour (Matej Mohorič).
The team was founded in 2010 as NetApp, upgraded the following season to Pro Continental status and, two years ago, reached WorldTour status. Bora – Hansgrohe subsequently achieved 67 victories, including ten Grand Tour stages (four at the Giro d’Italia, one at the Vuelta a España, and five at the Tour de France). In 2017 Bora – Hansgrohe claimed the UCI Road World Championships in Bergen, Norway, and Paris-Roubaix in 2018, both with Peter Sagan.
This UCI WorldTour team was created at the end of last season after the merger between the American BMC Racing Team and the Polish CCC Sprandi Polkowice. The roster includes the Belgian Greg Van Avermaet (Gold medalist at the Olympics in Rio 2016 and winner of the 2017 Paris-Roubaix, and the Italians Jakub Mareczko and Alessandro De Marchi.
This WorldTour team is based in Wevelgem, Belgium, the heartland of Flemish cycling. At the helm is Patrick Lefevere, one of the most successful managers in the history of cycling. Since 2003, the team has recorded almost 700 victories and last year’s achievements include four stages at the Tour de France, four at the Giro d’Italia, four at the Vuelta a España, the Liège-Bastogne-Liège with Bob Jungels, La Flèche Wallonne with Julian Alaphilippe and the Ronde van Vlaanderen with Niki Terpstra.
Slipstream Sports was founded in 2005 by Jonathan Vaughters and Doug Ellis. In 2016 the Australian Michael Drapac became a co-owner. The team’s major achievements include the 2012 Giro d’Italia with Ryder Hesjedal, the 2011 Paris-Roubaix (Johan Vansummeren), the 2013 Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the 2014 Giro di Lombardia. Six wins last year included two stages at the Vuelta a España with Michael Woods and Simon Clarke.
The team was founded on the initiative of Marc Madiot, former winner of the Parix-Roubaix, after he retired from racing. Since then, the team recorded more than 400 wins. Last year the biggest achievements include Il Lombardia, the Italian Monument race, and Milano-Torino, both with Thibaud Pinot. Two stages at the Vuelta a España also won by Pinot, and one stage win at the Tour de France thanks to Arnaud Démare.
The oldest sponsor in the peloton, Lotto became co-sponsor of Tönissteiner in 1984, and assumed the team’s main sponsorship a year later, while Soudal joined as the second name sponsor in 2015. The team now has almost 1000 wins in its palmares, including 35 Tour de France stage victories. Last year Lotto Soudal recorded 25 wins including a Giro d’Italia stage for Tim Wellens, a Vuelta a España stage win with Jelle Wallays and a legendary edition of Strade Bianche for Tiesj Benoot.
This Australian professional road race cycling team launched in 2011, joined the WorldTour from 2012, and also has a women’s squad. The men’s team’s palmares includes the 2012 Milan-Sanremo, the 2014 Liège-Bastogne-Liège and three Tour Down Under titles (2012, 2014, 2016) – all courtesy of Simon Gerrans – a Paris-Roubaix with Mathew Hayman and last year’s Vuelta a España with Simon Yates. Last season’s Mitchelton-Scott wins include six Grand Tour stages (five at the Giro d’Italia, one at the Vuelta a España) and the Clasica de Almeria.
Movistar is one of the most established squads. It was founded in 1980 as Reynolds (till 1989), then became very famous as Banesto thanks to the multiple victories of Miguel Indurain (1990-2004), then Caisse d’Epargne (2005, with Illes Baleares to 2010), becoming Movistar from 2011. From a total of 910 various victories, 114 are Grand Tour stages while 14 are Grand Tour overall wins (seven in the Tour de France, three in the Giro d’Italia, and four in the Vuelta a España). Last year Movistar Team achieved 26 wins, including the Abu Dhabi Tour (Alejandro Valverde), Paris-Nice (Marc Soler), the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya and the UCI Road World Championships in Innsbruck, both with Alejandro Valverde.
Founded in 2007 and originally known as MTN–Qhubeka, Dimension Data became the first African cycling team to gain a WorldTour licence, in 2016. Their palmares includes a Milan-Sanremo win (Gerald Ciolek in 2013), seven Tour de France stages, three Vuelta a España stage, one Giro d’Italia stage, and two Tour of Britain overall classification victories (Edvald Boasson Hagen, 2015; Steve Cummings, 2016). Last year saw seven wins, including two stages at the Vuelta a España (both with Ben King) and one stage at the Dubai Tour with Mark Cavendish.
This Dutch cycling team was founded in 1984 under the name Kwantum, anchored by Jan Raas. Last year the team recorded 33 wins; the most prestigious being the Giro d’Italia stage with Enrico Battaglin and the three stage wins at the Tour de France (two with Dylan Groenewegen and one for Primož Roglič).
Katusha was originally a Russian-licensed cycling team, becoming a Swiss outfit in 2016. Team Katusha Alpecin’s palmares boasts 22 Grand Tour stage wins. After battling performances returned fewer victories than desired in 2018, the team are looking for resurgence in the new campaign.
The team was founded in 2009 and, following an enviable string of Grand Tour GC victories, last year won both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour the France, with Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas respectively – for a total of eight Grand Tours in seven years. In addition to other 41 victories, including the Tirreno-Adriatico (Michał Kwiatkowski), three stages at the Giro d’Italia and three at the Tour de France.
Founded in 2005, this German WorldTour team is sponsored by the international tour operator Sunweb. The team’s major achievements include 41 Grand Tour stage wins (16 at the Tour de France, 10 at the Giro d’Italia, and 15 at the Vuelta a España), the 2013 Paris-Tours victory, in 2015 both the Milan-Sanremo and Paris-Roubaix classics, in 2017 the first Grand Tour (Giro d’Italia with Tom Dumoulin) and, at the end of the year, the German-licensed team won the Team Time Trial at the World Championship in Bergen, Norway. During last season, Team Sunweb recorded 11 wins and two prestigious second places at the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France, both with Tom Dumoulin.
Known for 20 years as Lampre, two seasons ago the team was rebranded as UAE Emirates. In 2017 the team recorded 19 victories, including one stage at the Giro d’Italia (Jan Polanc) and one at the Vuelta a España (Matej Mohoric). In 2018 recorded 12 victories, including two stages at the Tour de France (Alexander Kristoff and Dan Martin), one stage at the Abu Dhabi Tour (Kristoff again), the Eschborn-Frankfurt (Kristoff) and the Asian Cycling Championship with Yousif Mirza.
Founded in 2012, Pro Continental team Gazprom-RusVelo has a roster comprised 100% of Russian riders. The team has registered more than 60 race wins to 2018, including one Grand Tour stage at the 2016 Giro d’Italia with Alexander Foliforov’s ITT. Last season the Russian team recorded two victories, including the Giro U23 with Aleksandr Vlasov.
This global sports team made up entirely from athletes with diabetes comprises more than 100 cyclists, triathletes and runners, from 20 countries, and is spearheaded by the world’s first all-diabetic professional cycling team, based in the USA. Founded in 2005 by Phil Southerland and Joe Eldridge, Team Novo Nordisk’s mission is to inspire, educate and empower people affected by diabetes. Since 2008 the cycling team has amassed more than 30 victories, while 2018’s sole victory came thanks to David Lozano: Stage 7 of the Tour of Rwanda.
Photo Credit: LaPresse