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UAE Tour to kick off the 2021 World Tour season

UAE Tour
(Image credit: Courtesy)

Back for its third edition,  the UAE Tour will kick off the 2021 World Tour racing calendar. Beyond its status as the only race that brings the World Tour to the Middle East, the 2021 edition also marks the 50th anniversary of the formal establishment of the United Arab Emirates. 

From February 21-27, the UAE tour will cover 1045km, through five of the seven independent city-states that make up the country, showcasing landscapes offered by no other race along the way.  

All 19 World Tour registered teams will be sending a squad to do battle in the desert, with Mathieu van der Pol, and his Alpecin Fenix UCI ProTeam rounding out the field. The winners of the previous two editions, Primož Roglič and Adam Yates, will be returning this year to test their legs, and it will also be the first time we see Chris Froome in his new Israel Start-Up Nation colours. 

With four flat stages, this year’s UAE Tour has once again attracted some of the world’s best sprinters like Caleb Ewan, Sam Bennett, and Elia Viviani, who will be vying to wear the Green Jersey. The UAE Tour organizers have also thrown an Individual Time Trial into the mix, where ITT World Champion Filippo Ganna will be the rider to beat. 

UAE Tour

(Image credit: Courtesy)

The race kicks off in Al Ruwais, a town on the western side of the Abu Dhabi Emirate, shepherding riders 177km along the edge of the Persian Gulf to Al Mirfa, where we expect to see the sprinters put on a show, provided the field isn’t shattered by crosswinds blowing off the water. 

Stage 2 is a short and sharp 13km time trial starting and finishing on Al Hudayriat island. This is the first time the UAE Tour has included an ITT, which will likely mix up the GC, offering a chance for early time gains for riders who are strong against the clock.

UAE Tour

(Image credit: Courtesy)

The third stage takes the peloton to the other side of Abu Dhabi, where riders will duke it out up the Jabel Hafeet, a 10km climb, rising 1000m above sea level for an uphill finish after 152km of racing. 

Riders will then transfer to the Emirate of Ras al-Khaimah for the start stage 4 on the man-made, choral shaped archipelago, Al Marjan Island. With 204km to cover, this is the longest day on the bike at the UAE Tour, with the route looping through the neighbouring Emirate Umm-Al-Quwain, before returning to Ras al-Khaimah for a sprint finish back on Al Marjan Island.

UAE Tour

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Stage 5 sees riders set off in Fujairah heading north towards the most challenging feature of the race, the 20km Jebel Jais climb, which sees riders ascend 1491m above sea level and will likely be crucial in the General Classification.

The penultimate stage takes riders to Dubai, where the 168km course joins the Al Qudra Cycle Track, an 86km strip of pristine tarmac that makes its way through a sprawling desert landscape, before heading back to the city. 

Closing out the UAE Tour is a 147km high-speed sightseeing tour of the UAE's capital city, Abu Dhabi City, culminating in one last chance for the sprinters to test their explosive speed along the city’s breakwater. 

With a strong field lining up Al Ruwais, a course that will test every rider, and the addition of a time trial to the race, there are sure to be fireworks at the 2021 World Tour opener.