Vuelta a España organisers Unipublic and United Arab Emirates-based company Kenzay took the covers off an event which could change the future of cycling. Huge prize money, an exotic location, big incentives for teams and the guarantee of the sport's Grand Tour champions scrapping it out are all highly promising. Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes was at the launch in Madrid.
Talk about creating a splash. €450,000 for the winner of the 2006 Tour de France, €333,446 for the Giro d'Italia and €106,144 for the best rider in the Vuelta. These are three of the biggest races in cycling, but that prize list has been completely dwarfed by what will be on offer to the winner of the new Abu Dhabi Cycling Race of Champions, which was launched on Wednesday at a glitzy function in Madrid.
Minor details have been circulating for the past few weeks but today's meeting between press, race backers, organisers and riders at the Hotel Ritz showed just how groundbreaking the new event will be. A first prize of one million dollars (€772,414) is up for grabs at the end of the three stage, four day race, ensuring a hugely competitive showdown between riders despite what is a late season date of November 6-9.
Under the details announced, the winners of the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España are expected to line out with their teams, and so too the three squads which come out best in the teams classification of each Grand Tour. There will also be three wildcard invites and, with a squad of eight riders each, this will total a field of 72 competitors.
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