Ben Swift will make his debut for the UAE Abu Dhabi team at the People’s Choice Classic and then the Tour Down Under later this month. Swift joined the team over the winter on a two-year contract after six seasons with Team Sky.
"I’m really excited to be heading back to Santos Tour Down Under. I have tasted success there before, and it is always a nice place to start the season," said Swift. “It’s even more special for me in 2017 as it marks the start of my new adventure with UAE Abu Dhabi. I’m looking forward to pulling on my new jersey and getting started."
It will be Swift’s first appearance at the WorldTour opener since the 2011 season, where he won two stages and finished third in the overall classification. Swift will lead the team’s sprint ambitions along with Marko Kump, while Diego Ulissi will target the stage wins in the lumpier stages and aim for a strong finish in the overall classification. Finishing off the seven-man team will be Vegard Stake Laengen, Marco Marcato, Louis Meintjes and Manuele Mori.
"I’m happy to go again to Australia, where I’ll find the necessary conditions for the season debut, as for the past years," said Ulissi. "The courses are suitable for my characteristics, I’ll try to achieve important results, and I’ll also work in order to improve my shape.
"In the 2017 edition, there won’t be any more stage finishes in Stirling, where I obtained one success and one second place. It’s a pity, because it would have been for sure a good opportunity. However, in Australia, I’ll have other chances to try to hit the target and to give immediate satisfaction to the UAE Abu Dhabi team."
The People’s Choice Classic will be the team’s first showing since changing from Lampre-Merida at the end of last season. The team was originally meant to be named TJ Sport but a problem with paperwork due to the illness of the project’s head required funds from the UAE to secure its future.
The People’s Choice Classic criterium takes place on January 15 with the Tour Down Under beginning a couple of days later on January 17 and finishing on the 22nd.
UAE Abu Dhabi for the People’s Choice Classic and Tour Down Under: Vegard Stake Laengen, Marko Kump, Marco Marcato, Louis Meintjes, Manuele Mori, Ben Swift and Diego Ulissi.