Abu Dhabi: UAE Team Emirates’ Rui Costa will return to the UAE this week as the former world champion attempts to defend his title at the Abu Dhabi Tour from February 21-25 alongside a first-class rider line up.
Competing alongside the Portuguese legend will be Italian Champion Fabio Aru, who makes his team debut and reigning European Champion Alexander Kristoff, who returns to the UAE following his top 10 performance at the Dubai Tour.
The trio will be supported in their quest for the General Classification title by Italian trio Roberto Ferrari, Manuele Mori and Diego Ulissi and Kristoff’s fellow Norwegian, Sven Erik Bystrøm. Guiding the team will be the experienced Sports Director duo, Matxin Joxean Fernández and Marco Marzano, both of whom led team at the Dubai Tour.
Rui Costa, who made history in 2017 by picking up UAE Team Emirates’ first ever UCI World Tour win, said; “I have good memories from last year’s Abu Dhabi Tour. It was very important to win, especially in front of our new sponsors, managers and fans — it was a huge satisfaction! This year I hope to be as competitive as I was in 2017. We will be a strong team and we will try to put on a good show and get the best possible results.”
Commenting on his debut race, Fabio Aru, who joined UAE Team Emirates on a three-year deal in January said; “I’m honoured and at the same time, very motivated to start my new professional adventure at the Abu Dhabi Tour. It’s the team’s home race, the home race for our sponsors, and I can’t hide my desire to get off on the right foot. We are going to be there with a very strong team and I’m sure that we will help inspire the local community and acquire some new fans.”
The five-stage race will be a sprinting masterclass for onlooking fans, as the flat nature of the tour will likely result in thrilling, bunched sprint finishes on all but one of the week’s stages.
The opening stage, a 189km route, will see riders set off from the Madinat Complex, heading out on a long desert straight, past Liwa Oasis, before looping back towards Abu Dhabi and a finish in front of a packed crowd at ADNOC Schools.
Stage two will see riders take in the picturesque Yas Island, with breakaway riders looking to pick up valuable sprint points at Al Rahba and Khalifa Port before finishing the day at Yas Beach. Stage three begins from the iconic Nation’s Tower and sees riders navigate the Abu Dhabi Corniche before turning to cross Yas Island and take part in what could be one of the most exciting sprint finishes of the tour at the Big Flag.
New to the Abu Dhabi Tour for 2018 will be the inclusion of an Individual Time trial stage — an 11km route across Al Maryah Island. The fifth and final stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour is traditionally the most unpredictable. Riders, used to the flat terrain on the previous four stages, will have to tackle a gruelling ascent finish atop Jebel Hafeet. This stage played a fundamental role in Rui Costa’s 2017 victory.
As the UAE’s first ever professional cycling team, UAE Team Emirates are looking to encourage the next generation of UAE cyclists to get on two-wheels and promote the health benefits of cycling.
The team’s participation at the Abu Dhabi Tour gives the region’s community the opportunity to come together and support world-class athletes as they aim to become one of the top cycling teams on the tour. To find out more about UAE Team Emirates, visit UAETeamEmirates.com.
Courtesy : gulfnews.com