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Tour champion Nibali’s 2015 campaign starts in Dubai

Vincenzo Nibali will get in some early season race miles at the Dubai Tour alongside Cavendish, Tony Martin, Valverde, and others

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DUBAI — Reigning Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) will kick off his 2015 race season at the Dubai Tour, February 4-7.

“I’m convinced that Dubai represents a great opportunity for cycling and vice versa,” Nibali said at the route presentation in November. “Dubai Tour, which I raced last year too, will be my seasonal debut in 2015. The course is very interesting, and the third stage, with the final steep climb, it’s something very nice, [and] very hard to find in these surroundings.”

Many other notables will join Nibali in the desert, including: Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick-Step), former world champion and winner of 43 grand tour stages; Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), winner of the 2014 UCI WorldTour ranking; Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick-Step), three-time world time trial champion; Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha), two-time winner of Il Lombardia; Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing), former world champion; and John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin), winner of 10 stages in the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España.

“I’m looking forward to riding Dubai Tour for a second straight year,” Cavendish said. “It’s well-organized, and it is an important early season race to prepare our leadout train. We’ll be going with Mark Renshaw and also Fabio Sabatini, who is a new part of our leadout. It will be the first time the three of us work together in a competition.

“I worked really well with Sabatini in the first race of the season [Tour de San Luis]. He fits in really well. I think he will be great to position Renshaw as the final leadout man, and to also keep the train smooth. We’ll be looking for wins at this race just as we did at Tour de San Luis, and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do and further fine tuning our lead out.”

Dubai Tour teams and leaders

As a UCI 2.HC race, 16 teams (including 10 WorldTour teams) of 8 riders will race.

Ag2r-La Mondiale (F) – Bakelandts, Van Summeren
Astana (Kz) – Nibali, Boom
Bardiani CSF (I) – Battaglin, Pirazzi
BMC Racing (USA) – Gilbert, Zabel
CCC Sprandi Polkowice (Pl) – Bole, Szmyd
Etixx-Quick-Step (B) – Cavendish, Martin
Lampre-Merida (I) – Pozzato, Xu
Movistar (Sp) – Valverde, Malori
Skydive Dubai (UAE) – Mancebo, Gusev
Giant-Alpecin (G) – Degenkolb, Mezgec
Katusha (Rus) – Rodriguez, Porsev
Novo Nordisk (USA) – Megias, Verschoor
Team Sky (GB) – Thomas, Swift
Tinkoff-Saxo (Rus) – Valgren, Kiserlovski
UAE National Team – Badr Mohamed Ahmed Mohamed Alhammadi, Mohammed Yousef Ahmed Abdulla
UnitedHealthcare (USA) – Brajkovic and Canola

The Race

The inaugural Dubai tour took place in 2014, and was won by BMC Racing’s Taylor Phinney. For its second year, the tour has been upgraded from a 2.1 to a 2.HC UCI category, allowing it to host a greater number of the UCI WorldTour teams.

The 2015 edition will also be longer — 660km in total distance, a 60 percent increase over last year.

Stage 1 – The Westin Dubai Stage (Dubai – Dubai) 145km – sprint stage
Stage 2 – Nakheel Stage (Dubai – Jumeirah Palm) 187km – sprint stage
Stage 3 – Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority Stage (Dubai-Hatta) 205km – with hill-climb finish
Stage 4 – The Burj Stage (Dubai – Burj Khalifa) 123km – sprint stage