Philippe Gilbert (BMC), Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick-Step), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin), and Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) will all make their 2015 season debuts at next week's Dubai Tour, with Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick-Step) also confirmed for the four-day race as he looks to win further success after taking his first win of the season at the Tour de San Luis.
Organiser RCS Sport confirmed that a total of 16 teams, including 10 WorldTour teams, will ride the Dubai Tour, which begins on Wednesday February 4 and ends on Saturday February 7. Three of the four stages are expected to end in sprint finishes, with the uphill stage three finish to Hatta Dam predicted to decide the overall classification. Time bonuses of ten, six and four seconds are awarded at the end of each stage and could prove decisive in deciding the final overall winner.
Taylor Phinney (BMC) won the inaugural Dubai Tour in 2014 but is still recovering from the serious leg fracture he suffered last summer. Marcel Kittel (Giant-Alpecin) won three stages last year but will not return. The sprints are likely to be a battle between Cavendish, Degenkolb and his Giant-Alpecin teammate Luka Mezgec, Andrea Guardini (Astana), Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida), Robert Forster (UnitedHealthCare), Juan Jose Lobato (Movistar) and Team Sky's Ben Swift, Elia Viviani and Andy Fenn.
Cavendish will join up with his regular lead out man Mark Renshaw as he fine-tunes his lead out train for the 2015 season.
“I'm looking forward to riding Dubai Tour for a second straight year. It's well organized and it is an important early season race to prepare our leadout train. We'll be going with Mark Renshaw and also Fabio Sabatini, who is a new part of our leadout. It will be the first time the three of us work together in a competition,” Cavendish said in a statement from RCS Sport.
“I worked really well with Sabatini in the first race of the season. He fits in really well. I think he will be great to position Renshaw as the final leadout man, and to also keep the train smooth. We'll be looking for wins at this race just as we did at Tour de San Luis, and I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do and further fine tuning our lead out.”
The Dubai Tour has been promoted to HC status for 2014 and the riders will race for a total of 663km during the four stages.
Cyclingnews will have full coverage of the Dubai Tour, with news, reports, interviews and video content from the race.