Tinkoff have announced Michael Rogers will make his 2016 debut at next week's Dubai Tour following an interrupted start to his final season in the professional ranks due to a heart condition. All four stages of the race start in Dubai with finishes expected to suit the sprinters on all but one day. With the flat parcours, Tinkoff will be backing 23-year-old Michael Kolar as sports director Tristan Hoffman explained.
"We will approach this race with no designated GC leader but with a very motivated squad that will seek to help Michael Kolar in the sprints. He had a very productive training camp in Gran Canaria and now has taken great steps forward. I think Michael has shown his potential in the past to be good at the finish line and if he can grab the time bonuses, he will be in the mix for the GC," Hoffman said of the team ambition.
"Stage 3 of Dubai Tour will see the peloton race again to Hatta Dam. Here the riders will face two climbs and the last three kilometers are the hardest part with a 200m stretch that has a 14% gradient. In that stage, the squad will work to support Bennati. The stages near the coast and across the desert could be affected by cross winds although this hasn't been the case in the first two editions. However, if the wind picks up, we need to be at the front and fight."
Kolar added he is ready for his first race of the season, particularly as it suits his characteristics.
"Everything went well at the training camp," said Kolar. "I think I'm in a good shape prior to the start of the season although it's still too early to say. I'm happy to take the leading role into the sprints at Dubai Tour. It's a nice race, fast-paced, and I think that even the third stage will be decided in a bunch sprint. Degenkolb took it last year and he's no climber! It's a sprinter's stage race."
Rogers hasn't raced since the World Championships team time trial in September and explained he is excited for his return to the peloton.
"After several meticulous heart examinations throughout December and January, I’m relieved to have the green light to start the Dubai Tour," said Rogers. "I greatly benefited from the recent team training camp in Gran Canaria, where I was able to take the first steps to regaining full fitness thanks to the island's perfect weather and hilly terrain. My personal goals at Dubai Tour are modest, however I look forward to supporting Bennati, Kolar and the team's latest signing, Eric Baška."
Daniele Bennati, Robert Kiserlovski, Erik Baška, Juraj Sagan will also make their first appearances in Tinkoff kit this season with Michael Gogl and Ivan Rovny starting their second races of the year after appearing at the Tour Down Under.
Cyclingnews will provide extensive coverage of all the racing with interviews, news and exclusives during the four-day race.
Tinkoff for the Dubai Tour (February 3-6): Daniele Bennati, Robert Kiserlovski, Erik Baška, Michael Kolar, Juraj Sagan, Michael Rogers, Michael Gogl and Ivan Rovny.