Some of the best sprinters in the world will clash at next week’s Dubai Tour, with Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors), John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo), Alexander Kirstoff (UAE Team Emirates), Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis), Jakub Mareczko (Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia), Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) and 2017 overall winner Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) all confirmed on the entry list by race organiser RCS Sport.
A total of 16 teams have been invited to the five-day race, including nine WorldTour teams, five Professional Continental teams, plus the Mitchelton-BikeExchange Continental team and a UAE national team.
Astana, Bahrain-Merida, BMC Racing, Quick-Step Floors, Dimension Data, Katusha-Alpecin, LottoNL-Jumbo, Trek-Segafredo and UAE Team Emirates will line-up, with Aqua Blue Sport, Cofidis, Rally Cycling, Team Novo Nordisk and Wilier-Selle Italia completing the 112-rider peloton.
Vincenzo Nibali will mix it with the sprinters as he makes his season debut with Bahrain-Merida after missing the Vuelta a San Juan due to a stomach virus. He and Nicolas Roche (BMC Racing) are the only Grand Tour riders on the entry list. The other rosters are packed with lead out riders and rouleurs, who will be working to set up their sprinters.
This fifth edition of the Dubai Tour comes a week later than usual, taking the slot vacated by the Tour of Qatar. This will allow the likes of Viviani and his new Quick-Step Floors lead-out train to arrive in the gulf directly from Australia, where they rode the Tour Down Under and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.
Kittel and Kristoff to make season debut in Dubai
Kittel will make his 2018 season debut at the Dubai Tour and race in Katusha-Alpecin colours for the first time following his move from Quick-Step Floors.
Kittel won the 2017 Dubai Tour after winning three stages and securing the maximum time bonuses, while the stage to Hatta Dam was cancelled due a sand storm.
Kittel went on to win five stages at the Tour de France, often using his huge power and speed to come from behind to avoid the fighting for position. It will be fascinating to see how performs in Dubai and how he clicks with his new lead out train that will include Britain’s Alex Dowsett, Rick Zabel, Marco Haller and Nils Politt.
Kirstoff will also be making his racing debut with UAE Team Emirates as he starts a ‘fake February Grand Tour’ that also includes the Tour of Oman and the Tour of Abu Dhabi WorldTour race. Kristoff will have the support of former pursuit world champion Filippo Ganna, who impressed at the Vuelta a San Juan and young Italian sprinter Simone Consonni.
Cavendish won the Dubai Tour in 2015 and will have his full lead out squad to help him as he looks to kick off 2018 with some early success. The Manxman has not won a sprint since the first stage of the 2017 Abu Dhabi Tour, after battling with Epstein Barr and injuries last year, and will no doubt be out to prove he is still one of the fastest finishers in the world.
Cyclingnews will have full coverage of the Dubai Tour, with race reports, photo galleries, interviews and news.