New Mitchelton-Scott signing Grmay to lead team at UAE Tour

One of Mitchelton-Scott's off-season signings, Tsgabu Grmay, will debut with the team in a leadership role, heading up the squad for the UAE Tour WorldTour stage race at the end of February.

The new seven-day race in the United Arab Emirates – which combines the Abu Dhabi and Dubai stage races – will also feature Team Sky's Chris Froome, road race world champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) and Deceuninck-QuickStep sprinter Elia Viviani, but it will be the reigning Ethiopian time trial champion leading Australian WorldTour team Mitchelton-Scott.

"To start my first race as leader with my new team is an amazing opportunity for me, and an extra motivation for me to work hard and to start the season with big motivation," Grmay said in a team press release.

"I must give everything I have and be ready, mentally and physically, for this race because I must use this opportunity as a leader, and thank my team for giving me this opportunity."

The 27-year-old started his third Tour de France last year, but was forced to quit on stage 2 with abdominal pains. In six years as a pro, he's ridden for MTN-Qhubeka, Lampre-Merida, Bahrain-Merida and, last season, for Trek-Segafredo, but is relishing the chance to lead his new team at a race that should suit his abilities.

"Last year I did the Abu Dhabi Tour, but have never done the Tour of Dubai, so I think it's going to be an amazing race, and the course looks good for different kinds of riders. I can't wait to start this new race," Grmay said.

"I enjoyed racing in Abu Dhabi a lot last year. It was very well organised and amazing weather, because it is more or less similar to the weather in my country, so I think it's a good race to start the year with."

While the UAE Tour will be his first race with Mitchelton, Grmay will first ride for his national team – in Ethiopia – at the African continental championships (February 13-18).

"My off-season has been good, as always, but my numbers are better than last year's," Grmay said. "That will hopefully help me to start the year with a lot of confidence, and to work hard towards the big goals we have with the team."

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