Despite the Tours of Qatar and Oman being significantly older, it is the Dubai Tour that is set to boast the most attractive line-up of the early-season Middle Eastern races in 2016.
The Emirate race, set up in 2014, has retained the HC status it attained this year and will once again welcome 10 teams from the WorldTour next February 3-6. The RCS-run event is set to outshine the ASO-organised Tours of Qatar and Oman, which will have a depleted count of teams from cycling’s top tier, both dropping from 13 to seven apiece.
The full line-up for Dubai was announced at the official race presentation at the Jumeirah Mina A’Salam on Sunday, and there will be 16 teams in total, with three Pro Continental outfits, two from the Continental ranks, and finally a UAE national team. Each team will have a line-up of six riders.
Bradley Wiggins will make his debut at the race, riding with his Wiggins team, and the racing should provide ideal conditioning for him and his fellow track-orientated riders. With the Track World Championships taking place in London the following month, and the Olympic Games in Rio looming on the horizon, the largely flat and wide roads in Dubai will help the UCI Hour Record Holder fine-tune his power and endurance.
"I’m really excited to be racing with my team at the 2016 Dubai Tour. It’s a really exciting event and we’re looking forward to competing with some of the best teams in the world,” said Wiggins.
Race organisers also confirmed that Mark Cavendish will be back to try and defend the title he won this year, riding for his new Dimension Data team, while 2014 champion Taylor Phinney (BMC) will also be there to try and become the first rider to win the race twice.
Astana, BMC, Etixx-QuickStep, Lampre-Merida, Movistar, Giant-Alpecin, Team Sky, and Tinkoff are the WorldTour teams that are returning for 2016, while Dimension Data and Trek Factory Racing make their debut.
ONE Pro Cycling, the British team founded by ex-cricketer Matt Prior this year, will make one of their first appearances as a Professional Continental team, having recently received confirmation of their licence for 2016. They are joined by CCC Sprandi Polkowice and Novo Nordisk, both of whom were present this year.
The continental Skydive Dubai team was an obvious pick, while home riders will be further represented in a UAE national selection team.
Teams for the 2016 Dubai Tour
WorldTour: Astana Pro Team, BMC Racing, Dimension Data, Etixx-QuickStep, Lampre-Merida, Movistar Team, Giant-Alpecin, Team Sky, Tinkoff, Trek Factory Racing.
Pro Continental: CCC Sprandi Polkowice, ONE Pro Cycling, Team Novo Nordisk.
Continental: Skydive Dubai, Team Wiggins.
National: UAE national selection.