Sir Bradley Wiggins returns to road racing next week at the Dubai Tour (February 3-6), joining a strong start list that also features last year’s winner Mark Cavendish, Fabian Cancellara, Philippe Gilbert and Marcel Kittel.
Wiggins will ride for the eponymous Team Wiggins, and support his British team-mates. Wiggins is focusing on track conditioning ahead of the 2016 Track World Championships in March, and then the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where he aims to take part in the team pursuit for Great Britain.
Cavendish makes his road racing debut for Dimension Data this weekend at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in Australia. He then returns to the Dubai Tour as defending champion having won two stages and the overall of the 2015 edition. Cavendish has spent the winter riding on the track, including fourth place in the omnium at the recent Track World Cup in Hong Kong.
The race’s three sprint stages will be hotly contested, as Cavendish will come up against the likes of Marcel Kittel – making his debut for Etixx-QuickStep – and Elia Viviani (Sky).
Kittel is supported by a strong line-up at Etixx-QuickStep, one that also includes former time trial world champion Tony Martin.
Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo) has chosen the race to make his 2016 season debut, as he warms up for the spring classics. The Swiss multiple classics and time trial champion may well have his eye on stage three, which features an uphill finish to Hatta Dam.
Former road race world champion Philippe Gilbert heads up the BMC Racing line-up, which also includes 2008 Olympic road race champion Samuel Sanchez.
John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) won the stage to Hatta Dam last year, and was due to return this season. However, the German Paris-Roubaix and Milan-San Remo champion has been ruled out of the race after suffering numerous injuries after he was hit by a car while training in Spain. It is unclear when he will make his return to racing.
Watch: Men’s WorldTour contenders 2016
Along with Wiggins and Cavendish, there are a host of British riders on the start list, including Alex Dowsett (Movistar), Ben Swift and Andy Fenn (both Sky), as well as members of British-based squads One Pro Cycling and Team Wiggins.
The 2016 Dubai Tour starts on Wednesday, February 3, and finishes on Saturday, February 6.
2016 Dubai Tour route
Dubai Tour 2016 stages
Stage one, February 3, Dubai International Marine Club to Fujairah, 179km
Stage two, February 4, Dubai International Marine Club to Palm Jumeirah (Atlantis), 188km
Stage three, February 5, Dubai International Marine Club to Hatta Dam, 172km
Stage four, February 6, Dubai International Marine Club to Burj Khalifa, 132km