Road

Chris Froome to make Israel Start-Up Nation debut at UAE Tour

Tadej Pogačar, Mathieu van der Poel and Filippo Ganna also headline star-studded startlist for February race.

The world’s best will be jetting to the emirates next month.

The UAE Tour confirmed Thursday that Tour de France champ Tadej Pogačar, returning grand tour star Chris Froome, and multi-discipline maestro Mathieu van der Poel are all set to line up beginning February 21.

Israel Start-Up Nation stated that the UAE Tour will mark Froome’s debut ride in team colors as he starts to build toward a challenge for the Tour’s yellow jersey this summer. All eyes will be on the 35-year-old as he continues to battle back from injuries sustained in his horror crash more than 18 months ago.

“Chris has been making great progress in California, rehabilitating from his injuries,” said Israel Start-Up Nation manager Kjell Carlstrom. “We are excited to see him racing soon.”

The week-long race will also welcome world time trial champion Filippo Ganna, defending champ Adam Yates, Swiss star Marc Hirschi, and a swathe of sprint talent including Sam Bennett, Caleb Ewan, Pascal Ackermann and Fernando Gaviria.

As the first WorldTour stage race of the year after the closure of the Santos Tour Down Under, the sun and sand of the UAE Tour has attracted a full complement of 19 WorldTour teams as well as the top-ranked UCI ProTeam in 2020 Alpecin-Fenix.

Race organizer RCS Sport is still confirming routes for next month’s race, though recent editions have been dominated by fast finishes along with a mountaintop finale atop the Jebel Hafeet climb and a puncheur’s finish on the Hatta Dam.

The race also stated Thursday that it is working on “strict COVID-19 protocols designed to ensure the safety of all riders, staff and everyone involved.” Speaking to Marca last week, UAE-Team Emirates boss Joxean Fernández Matxin said that he expected charter flights to be organized from Europe to navigate riders through travel restrictions.

“The UAE Tour looks good, it will take place in February,” he said. “We have been talking with organizers, they have made two charters to leave from Paris and Milan with a protective bubble. In principle everything is perfect.”