World-class sprinters Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors) and Elia Viviani (Team Sky) are set to ride against each other for the first time in the 2017 season at the Dubai Tour, running from January 31 to February 4.
The early-season race has become a favourite for sprinters, with four of the five stages featuring flat profiles and a chance for bunch sprint victory.
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German Kittel goes into the 2017 race as defending champion, with Manxman Cavendish having taken the overall win in the 2015 edition.
Although several of the top sprinters are a little way off their top form so early in the year and with major targets still a few months away, the race still offers the opportunity to claim a season-opening victory and a morale boost. The number of stages has been increased from four in previous editions to five in 2017.
Along with Cavendish, Kittel and Italian Viviani, the provisional start list also boasts the presence of German John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) and United Arab Emirates sprinter Yousif Mirza, who makes his debut for WorldTour team UAE Abu Dhabi.
British riders are well represented, with Alex Dowsett (Movistar), Jon Dibben, Tao Geoghegan Hart (both Team Sky) and Scott Thwaites (Dimension Data) taking part. British team One Pro Cycling and new Irish outfit Aqua Blue Sport also both field squads in the UCI 2.HC classified event.
All stages start in the Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC), with stage four featuring the only notable climb of the race, finishing at Hatta Dam.
Dubai Tour 2017 stages
Stage one, Tuesday January 31, DIMC to Pal Jumeirah, 181km
Stage two, Wednesday February 1, DIMC to Ras al Khaimah, 186km
Stage three, Thursday February 2, DIMC to Al Aqah, 200km
Stage four, Friday February 3, DIMC to Hatta Dam, 172km
Stage five, Saturday February 4, DIMC to City Walk, 124km
Dubai Tour 2017 teams
Aqua Blue Sport
One Pro Cycling
UAE Abu Dhabi
UAE national team