Team Sunweb will take a dual-pronged approach to the inaugural UAE Tour as they target the general classification with Tom Dumoulin and Wilco Kelderman. The team also has their eyes set on early success with the team time trial on stage one, on top of the three opportunities for the sprinters.
For both Kelderman and Dumoulin, it will their first competitive outings for the 2019 season. Unlike some of the races later this season, Dumoulin and Kelderman will have equal standing within the team for the seven-day race.
After coming close to the Giro-Tour double last season Dumoulin is targeting it again in 2019, with Kelderman due to take the role of super domestique. The week-long race could be a rare opportunity for Kelderman, who finished second to Alejandro Valverde in last year’s Abu Dhabi Tour. Providing back-up for the pair will be Chad Haga and Rob Power, who is making his debut in Sunweb colours after joining from Mitchelton-Scott over the winter.
"The newly named UAE Tour has a few exciting new stages and a couple of the classic stages that we have seen before, with the Hatta Dam and Jebel Hafeet mountain top finishes,” said team coach Aike Visbeek. “Our main goal is the GC where we have two leaders with Wilco and Tom.”
The UAE Tour is the result of the coming together of the Dubai Tour and Abu Dhabi Tour and brings with it some well-known finishes from both races. Hatta Dam in Dubai and Jebel Hafeet in Abu Dhabi are well known to the riders and will be key in the fight for the overall title. There will also be a visit to the Emirates of Sharjah and Fujairah, which will be one of the chances for the sprinters.
For the bunch sprints, Sunweb have brought Max Walscheid, who has already had a busy start to the season with the Tour Down Under, the Cadel Evans Road Race and the Tour de la Provence. He will have the backing of Nikias Arndt and new signing Cees Bol, the latter riding with Walscheid Down Under last month.
“We also have a secondary goal with Max for the three sprint stages and bring a new lead-out train with Cees and road captain Nikias,” said Visbeek.
“We are looking for a solid result in the opening TTT and with Rob and Cees we have two debutants for this discipline in our team. For Rob it will be his first race and Cees had a really good debut with the team in Australia and really impressed us with some stunning performances."
The UAE Tour will take place between Sunday, February 24 and Saturday, March 2.
Team Sunweb for UAE Tour: Nikias Arndt, Cees Bol, Tom Dumoulin, Chad Haga, Wilco Kelderman, Robert Power, Max Walscheid.