The route of next February’s inaugural Dubai Tour was announced on Tuesday, as well as the names of some of the stars including Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Mark Cavendish, who will feature in what will be the third major early season stage race on the Arabian peninsula.
Organised by Giro d’Italia owners RCS Sport and taking place from 5-8 February 2013, the race is set to be a key feature of the opening months of the season as the UCI proceeds with its reform of the calendar, scheduled to be carried out between 2015 and 2020.
According to a UCI document leaked in October, like the existing Tours of Oman and Qatar, the Dubai Tour will be a Second Division race from 2017 onwards, all three sitting between season-opener the Tour Down Under and March’s Paris-Nice, both of which will be ranked as First Division.
The four stages of the maiden edition of the Dubai Tour are all themed, and the race begins with a 10km Individual Time Trial known as ‘The Down Town stage.
The second stage, 122km in length, is designated ‘The Sport Stage’ and passes sites including the Dubai’s Hippodrome, the Olympic pool, the Al Qudra cycling path, the Autodrome and its Golf Club.
That’s followed by ‘The Nature Stage,’ 162km long, largely through the desert, while the fourth and final stage, ‘The Old Dubai Stage,’ takes the peloton past Dubai’s two best known buildings, the Burj Al Arab and the Burj Khalifa, the latter at 830m in height being the world’s tallest skyscraper.
Here’s a flythrough video of the route. Following the opening day’s time trial, two sprint stages sandwich a medium mountain stage – although to be honest, if it were in any of the three Grand Tours, it would be designated a flat stage.
RCS Sport has branded the Giro “the world’s toughest race in the world’s most beautiful place,” and there’s more than an echo of that in the slogan given to its newest property in the following promo video, which describes it as “the most powerful race” and “most powerful place.”
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Some of the biggest stars in the sport have already confirmed they plan to ride, including Mark Cavendish, Peter Sagan, Marcel Kittel, Fabian Cancellara, Joaquin Rodriguez and reigning world champion, Rui Costa.
That gives a pretty strong clue to the identity of half a dozen of the 11 WorldTour-level teams that will compete, alongside three from the UCI Asia Tour 2013, the UAE national team, and the Dubai Sky Dive team. Eurosport will provide TV coverage in the UK.
UCI president Brian Cookson commented: “It is a great delight for me to see the growth of cycling in the United Arab Emirates and I am sure that the inaugural edition Dubai Tour, which is a part of the UCI Asia Tour, will not only play a significant role in bringing high level cycling to Dubai but will equally act as an important showcase for the city, promoting cycling’s universal values throughout the region and abroad.
“My thanks go to the authorities, volunteers, organisers and sponsors who have dedicated much time and effort to bring their vision to fruition, putting Dubai on the international road cycling map”.
Lorenzo Giorgetti, commercial director at RCS Sport and a director of Events Dubai, added: “We are really proud to be here today to underline our partnership with Dubai Sports Council and show how the development of the Dubai Tour project is now in its final stage.
“The course presentation, the sponsor’s introduction and the appointment of the TV broadcaster are all part of this great project that we have developed together in the last few months.
“We are now less than 60 days away from the start of the first edition of Dubai Tour and we are sure that this unique event will be widely appreciated at an international level.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.