The Middle Eastern race is set for an unprecedented turnout
The inaugural UAE Tour is set to draw a phenomenal field early next year, including Chris Froome, Tom Dumoulin, Vincenzo Nibali and Rohan Dennis.
Held in the early season, the UAE Tour is a combination of the now defunct Dubai and Abu Dhabi Tours, which previously held February slots.
Race organisers confirmed details of the new race on Thursday, announcing a formidable line up including sprinters Elia Viviani and Marcel Kittel.
The new seven-day race, which runs from February 24 to March 2, will consist of a team time trial on the opening day, three sprint stages, one for puncheurs and two days for the climbers.
General secretary of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Aref Al Awani, said: “I’m very glad to unveil such a wonderful race today.
“It’s the result of years of effort, passion and commitment, and this is definitely what we’ve been striving for.
“The world’s eyes are on us and we are ready to deliver a world-class sporting spectacle and an unforgettable event.”
All seven United Emirates will feature in the race – Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah and Umm Al Quwain.
The total distance will be 1,090km with most of the 4,500metres elevation gain accumulated in stages three, four and six.
Organisers have confirmed the line up will include Team Sky’s Froome, Sunweb rider Dumoulin, Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Dubai Tour winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Rohan Dennis (Bahrain-Merida), Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick – Step) and Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin).
Dubai Sports Council secretary general, Saeed Hareb, said: “We now have a tour that should challenge every kind of rider, and it involves all seven Emirates.
“This was always our dream. I am confident we can become an important appointment in the world cycling calendar and keep growing as a sporting event as well as developing the fan base.”
Stage one opens on Sunday, February 24 with a 16km team time trial in Abu Dhabi, followed by another Abu Dhabi stage the following day.
Then stage three features the first UAE Tour climb – 1,025metres to Jebel Hafeet with a maximum gradient of 11 per cent.
Stage four includes features from the queen stage of the former Dubai Tour, including a finish atop the punchy Hatta Dam climb.
A long flat stage in Sharjah follows on stage five, before the first mountain day on stage six – a 20km uphill finish at Jebel Jais with a five per cent average.
This final day is a parade through Dubai with an expected bunch sprint.