Tadej Pogačar to make his season debut at UAE Tour; Adam Yates and Tom Dumoulin will be his GC rivals

Pogačar has overcome a bout of Covid and will be fit enough to defend his title

Tadej Pogačar winning Il Lombardia 2021
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Tadej Pogačar has been confirmed on the startlist of the UAE Tour, the first men's WorldTour event of the season.

The defending champion - who recently returned to training after contracting Covid-19 - will lead UAE-Team Emirates in what is a home race his team, Pogačar aiming to win the race for the second successive year alongside a support crew that will include João Almeida. The Portuguese rider is set to make his debut for the team having joined over the winter from Quick Step - Alpha Vinyl.

If two-time Tour de France champion Pogačar, 23, is to win his ninth GC of his career, he will have to do so by once again beating Ineos Grenadier's Adam Yates, an accomplishment that he managed by 32 seconds in 2021. 

The year previously, it was Yates who got the better of Pogačar, bettering his final time by 1-01. 

Britain's Yates will also be beginning his 2022 season at the race and he will be looking to make his move on stages four and seven that both include tough summit finishes.

Another rider who will be circling those days in his calendar is Jumbo-Visma's Tom Dumoulin, the Dutchman beginning his preparation ahead of the Giro d'Italia in May that he hopes to win for a second time.

Team DSM's Romain Bardet, meanwhile, will also be on the startlist, as will Jai Hindley of Bora-Hansgrohe, representing a strong-looking field for the first big stage race of the year.

>>> Mark Cavendish second in first race of his season as Fernando Gaviria wins opening stage of Tour of Oman

Following the cancellations of the Tour Down Under and Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the UAE Tour will once again be the first top-tier race of the new season.

18 WorldTour teams will be present, with climbers and GC riders being joined by sprinters looking forward to the likely four sprint stages on offer.

It is expected that Sam Bennett will lead Bora-Hansgrohe, while Elia Viviani will be Ineos Grenadier's sprinter and Mark Cavendish will be tasked with scoring wins for Quick Step - Alpha Vinyl.

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