The UAE Tour is now set to be the first WorldTour race of the 2021 season, scheduled to kick off on February 21.
As the only WorldTour race in the Middle East, the event has been a popular starting point of the season for a number of star riders, including former winner Adam Yates.
This year the seven-stage race will be the first major event on the cycling calendar after the cancellation of the Tour Down Under, the traditional start of the WorldTour season, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Organisers of the UAE Tour have confirmed that all 19 WorldTour teams will be racing their event this year, which runs from February 21-27, while Mathieu van der Poel’s Alpecin-Fenix team have also received an invite.
Last year’s race was cut short due to a coronavirus outbreak – the first cycling event affected by the pandemic before the entire season was suspended for around five months – as Adam Yates was crowned overall winner.
The event, which usually features a selection of sprint and uphill finishes, will be the first time all WorldTour teams will compete against each other in 2021.
Start list details have not yet fully been announced, but the race will feature the likes of Tour de France winner Tadej Pogačar, Chris Froome, Adam Yates and sprinters Sam Bennett, Caleb Ewan and Fernando Gaviria.
The route has now been announced for the third edition of the UAE Tour and it looks fairly similar to the first two with four flat days made for the sprinters with potential for crosswinds, two mountain stages up the Jebel Hafeet and Jebel Jais and one individual time trial to really give the GC a shake-up.
Last year’s second overall behind Yates, Pogačar, was in attendance at the route presentation as his team have been training in the UAE, the Slovenian said: “I’m very pleased to be kicking-off my season at the UAE Tour.
“We just had our pre-season camp in the UAE and got to do some excellent training, especially on the Jebel Hafeet, which was great.
“I’m feeling good and motivated to race. After the stage win last year I’m coming back hungry for more. This is a huge event for myself and all the team and we will be here to fight for victories at our home race.”
Organisers say the strict Covid-19 protocols will also be published before the event to ensure the safety of riders and staff.
UAE Tour 2021 start list
UAE Team Emirates
DE BOD Stefan
SÁNCHEZ Luis León
Deceuninck – Quick-Step
VAN MELSEN Kévin
Israel Start-Up Nation
VAN EMDEN Jos
VAN DER SANDE Tosh
DE GENDT Thomas
DE BUYST Jasper
KRAGH ANDERSEN Asbjørn
HANSEN Lasse Norman
SKJELMOSE JENSEN Mattias
DE KORT Koen
VAN DER POEL Mathieu