Nibali, Aru, Cavendish and Kittel for inaugural Abu Dhabi Tour

Provisional list of starters released for the first running of the Abu Dhabi Tour, October 8-11

Vincenzo Nibali, Fabio Aru, Mark Cavendish, Tom Dumoulin, Peter Sagan, Alejandro Valverde and Marcel Kittel will be among the riders taking part in the inaugural Abu Dhabi Tour over October 8-11 in the United Arab Emirates.

The newly-formed UCI 2.1-ranked stage race will field 10 WorldTour teams against five professional continental squads and selected others, including the British-based Team Wiggins. In total, 18 squads will take part.

Vuelta a España winner Aru lines up with 2014 Tour de France victor Nibali for a strong Astana team. They will be reacquainted with Vuelta rivals Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin), Valverde (Movistar) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha).

Making one of his last appearances for Team Sky is Richie Porte – the Australian is changing teams to BMC for 2016.

Fabio Aru and Tom Dumoulin on stage 18 of the Vuelta a Espana (Watson)

Vuelta rivals Fabio Aru and Tom Dumoulin will be back in action at the Abu Dhabi Tour (Watson)

Three of the race’s four stages are designated for sprinters, and bunch gallops will be likely contested by Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep), Kittel (Giant-Alpecin), Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo), Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) and Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing).

Stage three of the race is likely to be the most decisive for the general classification, with the 11km climb of Jebel Hafeet featuring in the finale of the 140km stage.

For many riders this will be their last competitive outing of the season given its position in the calendar after the 2015 World Championships and the final WorldTour race, Il Lombardia (October 4).

The event will also host the first running of the UCI WorldTour Gala Dinner, which will honour the top-ranked riders, teams and nations in the season-long competition. Valverde topped the overall rider classification for the second consecutive year.

Abu Dhabi Tour 2015: Teams and key riders

Astana Pro Team (Kaz) – Nibali, Aru
BMC Racing Team (USA) – Gilbert
Bora-Argon 18 (Ger) – Buchmann
Colombia (Col) – Quintero
Drapac Professional Cycling (Aus) – Brown
Etixx-QuickStep (Bel) – Cavendish
Lampre-Merida (Ita) – Ulissi, Xu Gang
Movistar Team (Spa) – Valverde
MTN-Qhubeka (Rsa) – Teklehaimanot
Orica GreenEdge (Aus) – Matthews, Chaves
Skydive Dubai Pro Cycling Team – Al Ahli Club (UAE) – Al Murawwi
Team Giant-Alpecin (Ger) – Kittel, Dumoulin, Ji Cheng
Team Katusha (Rus) – Rodriguez
Team Sky (GBr) – Porte
Team Wiggins (GBr) – Patten
Tinkoff-Saxo (Rus) – Sagan
UAE National Team – Yousif Mirza
Unitedhealthcare Professional Cycling Team (USA) – Brajkovic

Abu Dhabi Tour 2015: Stages

Stage one – Thursday, October 8 – The ADNOC stage, 175km (flat)
Stage two – Friday, October 9 – The Capital stage, 130km (flat)
Stage three – Saturday, October 10 – The Al Ain stage, 140km (medium mountains)
Stage four – Sunday, October 11 – The Yas Stage, 110km (flat)