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Adam Yates among big names debuting season at UAE Tour

The British rider is targeting a strong showing against a deep field, to put his 2020 campaign off to a good start.

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Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) is among the big names opening their respective 2020 racing season at the upcoming UAE Tour.

The British rider has started his season at the Valenciana tour in Spain during the past three years, but decided to test his legs at the UAE Tour for the first time.

“It’s exciting to get back to racing, especially with a race I’ve never done before,” Yates said in a team release. “My winter training has been going really well, so it’ll be good to get stuck in and see where I am.”

The UAE Tour sees several big names make their debuts, and all eyes will be on Chris Froome (Ineos), who is making his first race appearance since his devastating training crash in June of 2019, at the Critérium du Dauphiné.

Yates, meanwhile, will likely be more under the radar as most of the media attention will be turned toward Froome. Other top stars lining up include Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Emirates), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Ilnur Zakarin (CCC Team).

The general classification fight typically comes down to the Jebel Hafeet climb, which this year will be featured in two stages. Organizers tweaked the route for 2020, with the peloton tackling the Jebel Hafeet climb twice: firstly on stage three and then again, on stage five. The steep Hatta Dam will be back in the 168km second stage.

“As it’s my first race of the season I’ll be targeting the two mountain top stages and hopefully if I stay out of trouble then I can make a good GC challenge,” Yates said. “It’ll be good to firstly get back into the rhythm of racing and find my legs again.”

Mitchelton-Scott also brings Lukas Mezgec for the sprints, where there will be stiff competition, with the likes of Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal), Mark Cavendish (Bahrain-McLaren), Fernando Gaviria (UAE-Emirates), Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma), and Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick-Step).

“We’ve got a really well-rounded team with options in both areas in GC and for the sprints. So, we have both bases covered for the week, with potentially five sprint stages and two climbing days,” said sport director Dave McPartland.

Yates, 27, will be hoping to start his season off on a strong note. Fourth in the 2016 Tour de France, Adam Yates has struggled to match that result in the grand tours, though he has enjoyed other successes over the past few seasons, including five victories in 2019.

“I’ve never a done a race where we do the same finish twice, it’s an interesting concept,” McPartland said of the Jebel Hafeet climb. “I think it will be quite predictive, we’ll see on stage three who’s got the legs and it will then be clear how the GC is going to pan out. I think it will be a pretty similar outcome on both stages.

“It’s not that steep of a climb and it’s on a wide road, so it’s not complicated, but I think we can expect Adam to be right up there,” he continued. “He will be looking to start the season on the right foot and a lot of the guys he will be competing against on GC all year will be there.”