John Degenkolb and Luka Mezgec will lead Giant-Alpecin’s eight-man team in the sprints at the upcoming UCI 2.HC Dubai Tour from February 4-7. The sprint-heavy race will feature one uphill finish this year, which could be the deciding factor in the overall classification, so the team is prepared to protect climbers Tobias Ludvigsson and Chad Haga.
"Our focus in Dubai will be with John and Luka for the sprints," said team coach Aike Visbeek. "When racing in the desert, the weather conditions, and wind speeds in particular, can play their part and the riders will have to be alert to these circumstances, and riding as a team will be key.”
Last year, the team’s dominant sprinter Marcel Kittel won three of the four stages, however, the overall classification was decided after the prologue, which was won by Taylor Phinney of the BMC team.
There is no prologue during this year’s edition of the race but stage 3 has a 17 per cent uphill finish to Hatta Dam that could play a key role in the overall classification. The team will play their cards in the GC with climbers Ludvigsson and Haga.
"Tobias and Chad will then be the protected guys for the GC, and we will do a recon of the hilly stage before the race to see what we can expect,” Visbeek said.
The remaining riders on the team are Roy Curvers, Johannes Fröhlinger, Thierry Hupond and Zico Waeytens.
Haga is the only rider from the team's Dubai roster that has already raced this season at the Tour Down Under. The other members participated in a warm-weather training camp in Cambrils, Spain, to prepare for the start of their season.
"The riders had a very strong training camp in Spain in January, with separate sprinter and climber groups working hard to get into good shape for the start of the season. It's the first race for most of the guys but I think we can hope for a good week,” Visbeek said.