Tour of the United Arab Emirates: Pogacar almost opens its season at home

Slovenian Tadej Pojacar during the Tour of Lombardy on October 9, 2021 between Como and Bergamo by Marco Bertorello

Season opener for Tadej Pogacar: The Slovenian, two-time Tour de France winner, lines up on Sunday for the UAE Tour, the event he won last year in the country and which sponsors his cycling team.

On the set starting line in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, Pogacar finds other riders starting their season as well. Most notable among them are Britain’s Adam Yates and Portugal’s Joao Almeida, who finished behind him on the podium last year, Dutchman Tom Dumoulin and France’s Romain Bardet, the starter of the UAE event.

A year later, Almeida joined the UAE’s Pojacar team with the next Giro on the horizon, as the Slovenian planned to focus first on the Tour de France. But both are in the same formation who also offers another recruit of his choice, New Zealander George Bennett, who has come to support Pogacar in the mountains.

“The last few months have gone almost perfectly. I had a small setback a few weeks ago (end of January) with Covid-19 but fortunately it didn’t bother me too much,” declared the Slovenian who specified that he had been training a lot recently with Almeida.

“Pogacar will be our captain,” confirmed team principal, Matxin Fernandez, ahead of this race in which the double Tour winner became a regular host. After being defeated in 2020 by Adam Yates, he avenged last year by winning the Jebel Hafeet stage, one of two summits.

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Organizers (RCS) programmed four stages for the runners who came in droves (Cavendish, S Bennett, Viviani, Demarie, Groenwegen, Philipsen, Decker, Ackermann) as well as the nine-kilometer trial. The Italian world champion in discipline, Filippo Ganna, will play, on Tuesday, as one of the favorites against Swiss Stefan Bisiger.

But the rating will be determined above all by the finishes at the summit, in the long climb of Jebel Jais on Wednesday (21.5 km at 5.4% at 1,490 m) and then Jebel Hafeet (10.6 km at 6 8%). Next Saturday, we will conclude in the mountains adjacent to the Sultanate of Oman.

Left Bardet in the unknown, Russian Alexander Vlasov, one of the men to follow this week after his latest victory on the Valencia Community Tour, finds ground he partly knows. In 2018, Anonymous took part in the Abu Dhabi Tour, a year before the race merged with the Dubai Tour and extended to the neighboring emirates.

. Stages (1058 km):

Sunday: Phase One Madinat Zayed – Madinat Zayed, 185 km

Monday: Phase II Al Hudayriat Island – Abu Dhabi Breakwater 173 km

Tuesday: Phase III – Ajman – Ajman 9 kilometers (individual trial)

Wednesday: Phase IV Fujairah Fort – Jebel Jais 181 km

Thursday: Phase 5 of Ras Al Khaimah Corniche – Al Marjan Island with a length of 182 km

Friday: Phase 6 – Expo 2020 Dubai – Expo 2020 Dubai, 180 km

Saturday: Seventh stage Al Ain – Jebel Hafeet 148 km

. Palmares:

2021: Tadej Pojakar (SLO)

2020: Adam Yates (Great Britain)

2019: Primus Roglic (SLO)

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