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UAE Tour 2019

Froome, Dumoulin and Valverde line up for inaugural UAE Tour

The new UAE Tour has come together for 2019 as a result of the merging of the Abu Dhabi Tour and the Dubai Tour. It's a somewhat interesting amalgamation of races as the Dubai Tour has often been dominated by sprinters – as it was in 2018, when QuickStep's Elia Viviani won two stages on his way to the overall title – while the Abu Dhabi Tour has been an event more for the traditional general classification hopefuls, and was won last year by current road race world champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).

The new race is made up of seven stages, running between February 25 and March 2. The organisers appear to have catered for riders who would have ridden either the Abu Dhabi Tour or the Dubai Tour by including three sprint stages and three mountain stages, along with a team time trial on the opening day.

Ones to watch

Other than 2018 Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas (Team Sky), the rest of the top four from the Tour are all riding the UAE Tour: Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb), Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Primož Roglič (Team Jumbo-Visma). It's a clear sign that this race is the first test of form for the 2019 Tour de France contenders.

For that reason, all three riders have to be considered favourites dangers to the general classification. Then there are the other continual threats who always pose problems for the likes of Froome and Dumoulin in the shape of Valverde, Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo).

All of the six riders mentioned are six of the best Grand Tour riders in the world, and so it will really come down to who has been putting the work in over the winter that will be best placed to win the first-ever UAE Tour.