Chris Froome, Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana will attend the first edition of the UCI Cycling Gala in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, travelling to the UAE to collect special awards, despite not competing at the inaugural Abu Dhabi Tour.
Quintana travelled from his home in Colombia to attend the event and arrived in Abu Dhabi on Friday morning. Contador also arrived on Friday morning. UCI President Brian Cookson is also due to arrive today as professional cycling prepares to celebrate the 2015 season with what is expected to be a lavish event in the Yas Marina Island “du Arena” concert venue, close to the Yas Marina Formula One circuit.
After years of awarding trophies to the WorldTour winners at small ceremonies, the UCI accepted an offer from the Abu Dhabi Sports council to organise the Cycling Gala. The UCI will award a series of prizes to winners of major races, the WorldTour, road and time trial world champions, Hour Record holders and give a special Fair Play award. The International Association of Cycling Journalists will also give a special award to the most media friendly team.
Cyclingnews understands that Bradley Wiggins will send a video message because training for the upcoming European track championships meant he was unable to attend in person. New women’s champion Lizzie Armistead is unable to attend but new women’s Hour Record holder Molly Shaffer Van Houweling of the USA is expected to be in Abu Dhabi.
Alejandro Valverde will collect a trophy for again topping the WorldTour rankings, as will Joaquim Rodriguez and Quintana for their second and third places in the season-long rankings. Movistar has won the team ranking and Spain the nation ranking.
Froome will be feted for winning the Tour de France, Contador for his Giro d’Italia victory and Fabio Aru will be awarded for winning the Vuelta a Espana. The BMC and Velocio-SRAM teams will be given awards for winning the Team Time Trial world titles in Richmond, while Peter Sagan will also attend the Cycling Gala and be given an award as road race world champion.
UCI President Brian Cookson said the UCI Cycling Gala would be a fitting end to the 2015 road season.
“From shoulder to shoulder sprints to the finish line to courageous solo break-away moves, the riders have kept us on the edge of our seats throughout the year. The UCI Cycling Gala is our way of thanking and rewarding them for their amazing performances. I am thrilled that the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and the United Arab Emirates Cycling Federation have undertaken to host this gala in conjunction with their new Abu Dhabi Tour.”