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The week-long stage race (February 21-17) is also drawing defending Tour de France champion Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates) and four-time Tour winner Chris Froome in his highly anticipated debut in Israel Start-Up Nation colors.
Other top names for the GC include defending champion Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers), Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo), and Giro d’Italia sensation João Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step).
- Sepp Kuss poised to step up in GC leadership
- Chris Froome ‘confident’ he’s fully recovered
- UAE Tour promises strong COVID measures
The 2021 season will be an important next step for Kuss, who said last month he hopes to have some chances to ride for his own GC results during this year’s campaign.
“I think so,” Kuss said about taking the next step in his progression. “Either leading or a being co-leader. For me, it doesn’t matter as long as I have the opportunity to at least try, and I can do it in a calm way.”
All eyes will be on Froome, racing for the first time following a long training camp in California where he continued with his recovery. It’s also the first time he will square off against Pogačar in a stage race since the Slovenian won last year’s Tour.
The race also draws some of the world’s top sprinters, and most of them will be there to challenge for victories in the first major showdown of 2021. Among the top fast finishers to start include Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal), Tour green-jersey winner Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Fernando Gaviria (UAE-Emirates), Elia Viviani (Cofidis), and Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka-Assos).
Following the cancelation of the Santos Tour Down Under and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, the UAE Tour will mark the first event on the elite men’s WorldTour calendar. Last month, UCI president David Lappartient expressed optimism the WorldTour calendar would not see disruptions similar to 2020.