The five stage race being held from 21-25 February in 2018 now features a short individual time trial

The Abu Dhabi tour has grown to incorporate an extra stage in 2018, and the five day race will feature a short 11.8km individual time trial, following three sprint stages and preceding a mountain finish.

Full start lists are yet to be announced, but top confirmed riders include 2017 Giro d’Italia winner Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb), plus a selection of sprinters including Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data), Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin), Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) and André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal).

Cavendish has just one win to his name at the race – the first stage of the 2017 edition. It’ll be the Manxman’s season debut, whilst Ewan and Greipel both have 2018 wins to their names this year already from the Tour Down Under.

The five day race in the desert is always likely to draw the sprinters in, with three stages promising fast finishes; though it’s likely by the last day there will still be everything to play for when it comes to the GC – with the final stage ending atop of the Jebel Hafeet climb.

The slopes of the 12.5km climb have provided a springboard for climbers to launch a race winning attack in the past, with the past three winners – Rui Costa, Esteban Chaves and Tanel Kangert – using it to their advantage.

Riders will compete for the overall general classification (red jersey), points (green), intermediate sprints (black) and youth competition (white).

Abu Dhabi Tour 2018 route

Stage one, Weds Feb 21 2018 Madinat Zayed t0 Adnoc School Sprinters stage, 189km
Stage two, Thurs Feb 22 2018 Yas Mall to Yas Beach Sprinters stage, 154km
Stage three, Fri Feb 23 2018  Nation Towers to Big Flag Sprinters stage, 133km
Stage four, Sat Feb 24 2018 Al Maryah Island ITT, 11.8km
Stage five, Sun Feb 25 2018  Qasr Al Muwaiji – Jebel Hafeet  Mountain finish, 199km

Stage one: Madinat Zayed t0 Adnoc School: 189km

The first staged proved a perfect springboard for Cavendish in 2017 – but he’ll have plenty of competition this year, too.

Stage two: Yas Mall to Yas Beach: 154km

A second sprint stage, running along the port.

Stage three: Nation Towers to Big Flag: 133km

The last opportunity for the sprints, and another drop in distance at 133km.

Stage four: Al Maryah island: 11.8km

A bit of respite for some riders at just 11.8km, but with time gaps likely to be minimal, testers could use this as an opportunity to get into the leader’s jersey.

Stage five: Qasr Al Muwaiji – Jebel Hafeet: 199km

abu dhabi tour route 2018

The final stage is likely to be pivotal when it comes to the overall winner, with the 12.5km climb coming at the end of this 199km day.