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Pogacar, Froome and Yates to headline 2021 UAE Tour

The UAE Tour race organisers, Abu Dhabi Sports Council, on Tuesday unveiled the race’s provisional entry list.

The list features some of the greatest riders in the sport of cycling, with strong battles expected for the leader’s Red Jersey, sprinter’s Green Jersey and individual stage victories when the tour will get under way from Feb.21.

As previously announced, Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) will again go head-to-head with 2020 UAE Tour-winner Adam Yates (INEOS Grenadiers) at this year’s race. Four-time Tour de France-winner Chris Froome (Israel Start-Up Nation) 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 general classification battle will be a host of experienced team leaders including multiple Grand Tour-winner Vincenzo Nibali (Trek Segafredo), Giro d’Italia and Tour de France podium-finisher Rigoberto Uran (EF Education – Nippo) and former World Champion and Vuelta a Espana-winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team).

There’ll be plenty of other riders to watch in the General Classification as exciting young prospect Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) will be making his first appearance at the UAE Tour alongside Joao Almeida (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), fourth-place finisher at the 2020 Giro d’Italia.

Rafal Majka (UAE Team Emirates) will join them for his second UAE Tour, and will no doubt aim to improve on his fifth place overall at last year’s edition. The 2020 UAE Tour’s third-place finisher meanwhile, Alexey Lutsenko (Astana – Premier Tech) will also be in the fight for the leader’s Red Jersey as he returns for the race’s third edition.

The list of GC-hopefuls doesn’t end there however. Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious) will ride the UAE Tour after ending his 2020 season with a solid 6th place finish at the Vuelta a España.

Teammate Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) – 10th place finisher 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 – Patrick Konrad (8th place at the 2020 Giro d’Italia) and Emmanuel Buchmann (4th place at the 2019 Tour de France). Fausto Masnada (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), 9th place at last season’s Giro d’Italia, will also be in contention for a top 5 finish.

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 of cycling for the race’s third edition. Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) will ride the race for the third year in a row after taking the Green Jersey in 2020’s edition and two wins from two on the iconic Hatta Dam uphill finish.

Racing alongside him at the first World Tour event of the season will be UAE Tour stage victor and Tour de France Green Jersey winner Sam Bennett (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), also riding his third edition. Also confirmed is last year’s opening stage winner Pascal Ackermann (Bora – Hansgrohe), who will look to repeat his success as he returns for his second UAE Tour this February, and Colombian sprinter Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates), a stage winner in the race’s first edition.

The provisional entry list also includes 5-time Giro d’Italia stage-winner and 2019 UAE Tour Green Jersey-winner Elia Viviani (Cofidis) as well as Giacomo Nizzolo (Team Qhubeka Assos) – twice winner of the Giro d’Italia’s Maglia Ciclamino. Strong finisher Luka Mezgec (Team Bikeexchange) and 22-time Grand Tour stage-winner Andre Greipel (Israel Start-Up Nation) 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 (INEOS Grenadiers) 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 (UAE Team Emirates) will also ride the race for the first time. The 2020 Tour de France stage winner and Road World Championship Bronze medalist at Imola will be keen to impress after signing for UAE Team Emirates at the start of the new year.

Hirschi will be one to watch on some of the tour’s punchier stages.

Last, but certainly not least, Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) 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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