The Abu Dhabi Tour (October 8-11) is just an end-of-season holiday for pro riders, isn't it? Not exactly...
A new race will serve to draw the season to a close for many riders in 2015: The Abu Dhabi Tour.
The United Arab Emirates capital plays host to four days of racing from Thursday, October 8, which promises an alternative to the increasingly bleak temperatures and pouring rain as autumn arrives in Europe.
The start list is a good one. Grand Tour champions Vincenzo Nibali and Fabio Aru (both Astana) mix it up with some tasty sprinters and classics men, such as Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep), Marcel Kittel (Giant-Alpecin), Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) and Elia Viviani (Team Sky).
Newly-minted world champion Peter Sagan will also be there racing for the first time in his rainbow stripes, although he looked a little weary at the Giro d’Italia presentation earlier in the week. And that may be the same for other riders too: the race comes at the end of a very long season, which for some started at the Tour Down Under in Australia in January.
Is the route all flat deserts?
No it is not. Although four days doesn’t give the opportunity for a wide scope of stage profiles, there’s a testing climb to the finish on day three of the race (see below for maps/profiles). Stages one, two and four are very flat, though, giving the sprinters a chance to shine. Stage three will likely be the decider though, and we can look forward to the mountain men having one last uphill ding-dong before they put their bikes away for a month or two.
Who is going to win?
As we’ve mentioned, there are going to be a lot of weary legs in attendance. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) was in great shape to win Il Lombardia last weekend, and you can never discount WorldTour winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), who can contest flat stages as well as climb. Team Sky’s Dutch climber Wout Poels is also on our shortlist of possibles for the final podium, as is Vuelta sensation Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin). Some riders, though, will likely be happy to have a bit of end-of-season training and enjoy the undoubtedly luxurious surroundings provided by the host nation.
What’s the weather going to be like?
With temperatures averaging around 30°C, but peaking nearer 45°C, and the threat of sandstorms, some riders may struggle with the change in weather. Crosswinds, heat and sunshine will make it familiar territory for those who have experienced the Tour of Qatar or Dubai Tour.
Is it worth watching?
Cycling is always worth watching. The spectacle of a very decent field of riders in a brand new race should not be missed – and for those in Europe, the broadcast times are very convenient as it takes place in the afternoon here too.
Who’s behind the Abu Dhabi Tour?
RCS Sport, the same organisation that brings you the Giro d’Italia, Il Lombardia and Dubai Tour, among many other races. The Abu Dhabi Sports Council is involved, and they said about the race: “This event is in line with the overall goal of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council to develop sport through events that reach the entire community, from the young to families, as cycling does.”
It’s ranked as a UCI 2.1 race, which is two tiers below the top-level WorldTour. It fills a void in the calendar left by the now defunct Tour of Beijing and certainly fits the remit of globalising professional cycling.
Abu Dhabi Tour 2015: Stages
Thursday, October 8
The ADNOC Stage: Qasr al Sarab to Madinat Zayed, 174km
Friday, October 9
The Capital Stage: Yas Marina Circuit to Yas Mall, 129km
Saturday, October 10
The Al Ain Stage: Al Ain (Al Qattara Souq) to Jebel Hafeet, 142km
Sunday, October 11
The Yas Stage 110km: Yas Marina Circuit, 110km
Abu Dhabi Tour 2015: Teams
18 teams comprising a maximum of six riders apiece will contest the Abu Dhabi Tour, bringing the total start list to 108 riders.
Drapac Professional Cycling
Skydive Dubai Pro Cycling
UAE National Selection
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Abu Dhabi Tour 2015: TV guide
Eurosport will be broadcasting live coverage of stage one of the Abu Dhabi Tour, with highlights covering the remainder of the race.
Stage one, Thursday October 8, 12.15-14.00, LIVE, British Eurosport
Stage two, Friday October 9, 20.00-21.00, Highlights, British Eurosport 2
Stage three, Saturday October 10, 19.30-20.30, Highlights, British Eurosport 2
Stage four, Sunday October 11, 17.00-18.00, Highlights, British Eurosport 2