UAE Tour: Riders To Watch

The third edition of the UAE Tour starts on Sunday and the entry list includes many of the biggest names in the sport.

The race organizers have released the provisional entry list for the seven-stage event — which is effectively the opening round of the 2021 UCI Worldtour — and you can expect fireworks!

The start list features some of the big names of the sport and strong battles are expected for the leader’s Red Jersey, sprinter’s Green Jersey and individual stage victories.

Cyclist Tadej Pogačar at the UAE Tour cycling race
Scenes from the 2020 event with Yates and Pogačar winding things up. | Credit: Fabio Ferrari

The GC contenders

Tadej Pogačar will again go head-to-head with 2020 UAE Tour-winner Adam Yates at this year’s race. Four-time Tour de France-winner Chris Froome will also be in attendance and will be looking to put in a strong performance as he continues his spirited comeback from injury. Joining him in the GC battle will be a host of experienced team leaders including multiple Grand Tour-winner Vincenzo Nibali, Giro d’Italia and Tour de France podium-finisher Rigoberto Uran and former World Champion and Vuelta a España-winner Alejandro Valverde.

There’ll be plenty of other riders to watch in the General Classification. Exciting young prospect Sepp Kuss will be making his first appearance, alongside João Almeida who placed fourth at last year’s Giro. Rafal Majka will no doubt aim to improve on his fifth place from last year. Of course, the 2020 UAE Tour’s third-place finisher, Alexey Lutsenko, will also be in the fight for the leader’s Red Jersey.

The list of GC-hopefuls doesn’t end there. Wout Poels will ride the UAE Tour after ending his 2020 season with a solid 6th place finish at the Vuelta a España. Teammate Damiano Caruso who finished 10th at the 2020 Tour de France, will race alongside him. Bora – Hansgrohe, meanwhile, will also be riding with two potential GC contenders at the race in the form of Patrick Konrad (8th place at the 2020 Giro d’Italia) and Emmanuel Buchmann (4th place at the 2019 Tour de France). Then there is Fausto Masnada who placed 9th at last season’s Giro d’Italia who will also be in contention for a top 5 finish.

The Green Jersey contenders

The UAE Tour’s well-earned reputation as a ‘sprinter’s world championship’, has once again attracted some of the fastest finishers in the sport. Caleb Ewan will ride the race for the third year in a row after taking the Green Jersey last year.  Racing alongside him will be UAE Tour stage winner and Tour de France Green Jersey winner, Sam Bennett. Also confirmed is last year’s opening stage winner Pascal Ackermann and Colombian sprinter Fernando Gaviria – who is also a previous stage winner.

The provisional entry list also includes 5-time Giro d’Italia stage-winner and 2019 UAE Tour Green Jersey-winner Elia Viviani as well as Giacomo Nizzolo – twice winner of the Giro d’Italia’s Maglia Ciclamino. Strong finisher Luka Mezgec and 22-time Grand Tour stage-winner Andre Greipel will also start. The German powerhouse will be riding his first UAE Tour.

Away from the fight for the Red and Green Jerseys, time trial ace Filippo Ganna makes his UAE Tour debut this February, following a sensational 2020 season in which he took four stage victories at the Giro d’Italia and an ITT World Champion’s Rainbow Jersey. The Italian rider will no doubt target Stage 2’s 13km ITT. Swiss rider Marc Hirschi will also ride the race for the first time and will be one to watch on some of the tour’s punchier stages.

Cyclist Filippo Ganna in action
Filippo Ganna in flight at the 2020 Giro d’Italia 2020. | Credit Fabio Ferrari

Last, but certainly not least, Mathieu van der Poel will ride his first UAE Tour. He’ll be starting the race on strong form, having recently taken his fourth Cyclo-cross World Championship title at Ostend, Belgium.

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