Strong line-up for the race in Bahrain’s neighbourhood
UAE Tour in this existance is in it’s first year, as previously it was two different races (Dubai Tour and Abu Dhabi Tour). This year there is a respecting field of GC contenders (Dumoulin, Valverde), while last few years those two tours were known to be sprinters’ races. It will be the first time this year that a lot of GC contenders will test their form. To add to this strong field of riders, Team Bahrain Merida is coming with a GC leader in Vincenzo Nibali, as well as with TT World Champion Rohan Dennis. Phil Bauhaus will be our “go to” rider for the sprints, supported by Marcel Sieberg, Heinrich Haussler and Jan Tratnik, while Damiano Caruso will be Nibali’s helper for the GC position.
The tour goes through all seven emirates and starts in Abu Dhabi with Team Time Trial. There are two mountain finishes on stage 3 (Jabel Hafeet) and 6 (for the first time in pro cycling, 20km, 5% gradient at Jabel Jais), with one punchy finish at Hatta Dam (where Colbrelli won last year). The other 3 stages are sprinter’s stages.
Phil Bauhaus said: “It’s good opportunity for me as sprinter, as well as a sprint train to develop. Last year I won a stage, and this year I feel super strong and I hope I can fight again for a stage win. I had good training after Tour Down Under, and Marcel, Heino and me are super motivated. Tour Down Under was our first race together, and we improved a lot, but we need to continue improving, it’s not something that gets perfect after 2-3 races, so we’ll keep improving, but also I’m confident we’ll do a great job as a team together”.
Our Sports Director Gorazd Stangelj: “We are going to Tour of UAE with a good team. Vincenzo Nibali will be our leader, while Phil Bauhaus will be our sprinter and both will have plenty of support. First stage is TTT and it will be first time for us to ride together so we will see what we could improve for the next important races. This first stage is really iportant for the GC ranking, so we hope we can set a good result. Good team spirit and achieving good results are definitely main objectives of the team at this race”.