Scheduled at the very end of the season, in the Middle East, and categorized as a UCI 2.HC race, the Abu Dhabi Tour might not seem like a top priority for the best WorldTour cyclists poised to roll into their off-season. But in its 2015 debut and also this year, the race is something of an all-star showcase. To the organizers’ disappointment, one top rider, Bradley Wiggins, on the brink of retirement (no really, this time he is retiring for good), has backed out of the four-day race, scheduled October 20-23.
“The race organizers are surprised and disappointed to see different stories in the media regarding Bradley Wiggins and the Abu Dhabi Tour,” a written statement from organizer RCS Sport read.
“It is important to clarify that the long-standing expectation has been that Sir Bradley will be riding the 2016 Abu Dhabi Tour, and that all operations by the race owner, race organiser and its representatives and agents have been based on that expectation in good faith.”
The world hour record holder’s eponymous team told VeloNews that Wiggins would not take the start in Abu Dhabi. Riders confirmed by race organizers include: Mark Cavendish, Alberto Contador, Vincenzo Nibali, as well as Rio gold medalists Greg Van Avermaet, Elia Viviani.
The peloton’s turn through Abu Dhabi also includes the UCI Gala, in its second year as well, October 18, where overall WorldTour winners will be recognized, along with other notable cyclists.