Skip to main content

UAE Tour offers sprint showdown between Bennett, Cavendish, Viviani and Groenewegen

PALM JUMEIRAH DUBAI UNITED ARAB EMIRATES FEBRUARY 26 Arrival Sam Bennett of Ireland and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Celebration Elia Viviani of Italy and Team Cofidis Pascal Ackermann of Germany and Team BoraHansgrohe during the 3rd UAE Tour 2021 Stage 6 a 165km stage from Deira Islands to Palm Jumeirah UAETour on February 26 2021 in Palm Jumeirah Dubai United Arab Emirates Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
Sam Bennett celebrates one of his stage wins at the 2021 UAE Tour (Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images Sport)

Sam Bennett (opens in new tab) returns to the fray and makes his 2022 debut with Bora-Hansgrohe at the UAE Tour (opens in new tab), with the Irishman lining up on Sunday February 20 against a packed field of sprint rivals including former teammate Mark Cavendish (opens in new tab) (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl), Dylan Groenewegen (BikeExchange-Jayco) and Elia Viviani (Ineos Grenadiers).

Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) will also be making his season debut at the seven day WorldTour opener, while Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) will be looking for his first win of 2022 after a best finish of fifth place at the Tour de la Provence.

A third positive for COVID-19 means Fernando Gaviria (opens in new tab) is absent from the UAE Team Emirates (opens in new tab) roster, with new signing Pascal Ackermann a late replacement for the Colombian. Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) has also opted not to ride the UAE Tour after a recent illness and will instead line-up at this weekend's Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var in the south of France and then Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne on Sunday February 27.

Bennett is back with Bora-Hansgrohe after two years at QuickStep-AlphaVinyl which ended with a tumultuous 2021 season and a fallout with team manager Patrick Lefevere. His season debut was delayed due to a knee problem and so his expectations are low.

He will face up to a group of rivals that have already tested the legs in 2022 racing and captured those first confidence boosting wins of the season, with Viviani victorious in stage 1 of the Tour de la Provence, Groenewegen taking both stage 3 and 5 at the Saudi Tour and Cavendish capturing his first win of the season on stage 2 of the Tour of Oman, after coming second on stage 1.

“Mark proved he is in good shape in Oman and we have confidence in him going into the first World Tour event of the season. He will rely on a strong train, with Michael [Mørkøv] as the last man ready to launch him on the four flat stages,” QuickStep-AlphaVinyl sports director Geert Van Bondt said.

The UAE Tour starts with a desert stage from Madinat Zayed and finishes with a classic mountain stage to Jebel Hafeet. The opening two days look perfect for the sprinters, as long as cross winds don’t intervene. Then there is  a nine-kilometre individual time trial on stage 3, the first of two mountain stages on day four, then two more flat stages before the climbing finale on Saturday February 26.

“The four flat stages in this year’s route provide ample opportunity for fast-finishers looking to make their mark on the first UCI WorldTour event of the season,” the UAE Tour said. 

“It is no surprise then that this year’s race, like the three editions before it, has attracted the very best in the pro peloton, with 83 Grand Tour stage wins between the six sprinters announced.”

Bennet won two stages on his UAE Tour debut last year, just missing out on a third victory when Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) caught him before the finish line on the final stage. 

Last year Bennett had a strong run in from the previous season, while 2021 on the other hand took a turn for the worse after a knee injury and falling out with Lefevere. Bennett returned to racing in September 2021, but hasn’t finished a race since  the 2021 Volta as Algarve, held in May, where he won two stages and took out the green jersey. 

Groenewegen comes into the race with a victory to his name at the event from stage 4 in 2020, while Cavendish may not have yet scooped up any wins at the event, he has three on the results sheet from the shorter Dubai Tour, which merged with the Abu Dhabi Tour in 2019 to create the UAE Tour.

Cyclingnews will have full live coverage of the UAE Tour stages, plus news and interviews from the race.

Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*

Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets

After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Production editor

Simone joined the team as Production Editor based in Australia at the start of the 2021 season, having previously worked as Australian Editor at Ella CyclingTips and as a correspondent for Reuters and Bloomberg.