Great expectations surround the Abu Dhabi Tour, that is all set to become a major new addition to the international racing calendar.
The Tour consists of four stages around the spectacular UAE capital and the surrounding desert, covering a total distance of 555km; three stages favour the sprinters, while the remaining stage, finishing uphill after a 750m climb with gradients touching 12%, will probably decide the General Classification.
The event is rated 2.1 by the UCI, cycling’s world governing body.
Stage 1 – The Liwa Stage (175km): The entire stage takes place in the stunning Rub al Khali desert part of Abu Dhabi’s Western Region. Starting among the red sand dunes that surround the beautiful Qasr Al Sarab Resort, the undulating race route accumulates about 1,200m of vertical climbing. The riders will trace a ring around Liwa and the nearby oasis, passing through the town twice. The riders then head north along straight roads for 55km, with the slightest of downhill gradients, as far as the town of MadinatZayed. After a first passage of the finish line, the peloton enters a final 15km loop, to be ridden just once. A mass sprint is expected, although the desert winds could influence the outcome.
Stage 2 – The Capital Stage (130km): A flat stage across the city, starting at the Yas Marina Circuit and heading towards the southern part of the city along wide and mostly straight roads. After the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the Exhibition Hall, the peloton turns back on itself, returning to Yas Island, then following the Corniche as far as Marina Island. This is the setting for the final 7.6km circuit, to be completed 5 times: it features long straight stretches with wide sharp bends. Again, a mass sprint is expected.
Stage 3 – The Al Ain Stage (140km): This is considered to be the toughest stage of the inaugural Abu Dhabi Tour. Starting from Al Qattara Souq, the first 33 kilometres follow a series of broad, straight roads, then the peloton will trace a wide circle around the city, crossing the Green Mubazzarah oasis before starting the final climb. 11km long, the Jebel Hafeet ascent reaches an altitude of 1,000m on gradients that average 7.5% and touch 12% on the lower slopes. The climb, on wide, well surfaced roads and with long, sweeping bends, eases into a short descent with 1.5km to go, before resuming a shallow climb to the finish line. The final climb will, in all probability, decide the General Classification.
Stage 4 – The Yas Stage (110km): The entire stage takes place in the Yas Marina Circuit. The peloton will complete 20 laps, interspersed with intermediate sprints. The circuit is wide and the surface is in impeccable condition.