Chris Froome, Tom Dumoulin and Alejandro Valverde among big names competing in the UAE from Sunday
The biggest names in world cycling are set to compete in the inaugural UAE Tour which starts on Sunday.
The only Middle East race in the UCI WorldTour calendar, all 18 UCI WorldTeams have accepted the invitation to take part, with six-time Grand Tour winner Chris Froome headlining the entries.
Other cycling stars competiting include 2017 Giro d’Italia winner and former UCI World Time Trial Champion, Tom Dumoulin, last year’s Abu Dhabi Tour winner and UCI Road World Champion, Alejandro Valverde, and the Italian all rounder Vincenzo Nibali, who boasts four Grand Tour titles.
Also on the provisional entry list published this week are 2018’s most successful rider and Dubai Tour winner, Elia Viviani, the UCI Time Trial world champion Rohan Dennis, and the double Dubai Tour champion and winner of stages at all three Grand Tours, Marcel Kittel.
After five successful years as the Dubai Tour and the Abu Dhabi Tour, the new combined UAE Tour was officially unveiled last year at the Yas Marina Circuit and is organised by Dubai Sports Council, Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Sharjah Sports Council, in partnership with RCS Sport. It is scheduled from February 24 to March 2.
The inaugural race’s seven stages will embrace all seven emirates in the UAE. 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.