The UAE Tour Top Riders inside the iconic architecture of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, holding the race’s trophy.
Alejandro Valverde, Tom Dumoulin, Vincenzo Nibali, Fernando Gaviria, Mark Cavendish and Elia Viviani press conference quotes.
Abu Dhabi, 23 February 2019 – Six representatives of the peloton at the start of the 2019 UAE Tour spoke to the media this afternoon in Louvre Abu Dhabi. The high class bunch including UCI Road World Champion, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team), Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb), Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida), Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates), Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data) and Elia Viviani (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) were welcomed by H.E. Aref Al Awani, Abu Dhabi Sports Council General Secretary, H.E. Saeed Hareb, Dubai Sports Council General Secretary and H.E. Eisa Hilal Al Hezami, Sharjah Sports Council General Secretary.
The official Start List and tomorrow’s Team Time Trial Start List are now available. The first team to start in tomorrow’s ADNOC Stage, Gazprom – RusVelo, will leave the blocks at 14:50. The others will follow at 5′ intervals, with the last, Deceuninck – Quick-Step, off at 16:25.
Bio: Valverde, born Las Lumbreras, Spain, 20 April 1980, is one of the most successful riders in the peloton with over 100 pro wins since his debut in 2002 with the Kelme – Costa Blanca team. His palmares includes four Liège-Bastogne-Liège (2006, 2008, 2015, 2017) victories, five at La Flèche Wallonne (2006, 2014-2017), one GC at the Vuelta a España. Last year El Bala (‘The Bullet’) won the UCI Road World Championships in Innsbruck-Tirol and the last edition of the Abu Dhabi Tour.
Quote: “This is a very beautiful race coming up, at the right time of the year for guaranteed good weather. The UAE Tour is an important race. It was already important here before but now, with the Dubai Tour and the Abu Dhabi Tour being united, it makes it an even more attractive event with two mountain stages and a demanding finale. I feel good and the organisation is great. I’m very happy to be here.”
Bio: Born in Maastricht, Netherlands, 11 November 1990, Dumoulin found notoriety in his early career as a time trial specialist before emerging as a great all-rounder. In 2017 he became the first Dutch cyclist ever to win the Giro d’Italia and, later that season, both the World Individual Time Trial and the World Team Time Trial Championships. His palmares features stage wins in all three Grand Tours (three at the Giro d’Italia, two each at the Tour de France and Vuelta a España), and a silver medal at the Rio Olympic Games.
Quote: “I’m getting used to starting my season here. There’s always some sort of question mark on how the shape is. Wilco Kelderman and myself will race for GC and we’ll back Max Walscheid for the sprints.”
Bio: Nibali, born in Messina, Italy, 14 November 1984, is one of the greatest ever all rounders, being one of only six cyclists to have won all three Grand Tours: the Vuelta a España in 2010, the Giro d’Italia in both 2013 and 2016 and the Tour de France in 2014. Lo Squalo – the Shark’s – other achievements include two editions of the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race, the 2016 Tour of Oman, and two editions of the Il Lombardia. Last year saw a prestigious victory for Nibali, the Milano-Sanremo, a monument race, with an amazing solo attack.
Quote: “I just arrived from an altitude training camp in Tenerife. I’m here to look for a good shape and answers before the next races. This race here is more and more important every year and we’ll try to do well.”
Bio: Born in La Ceja, Colombia, 19 August 1994, Fernando Gaviria is one of the best sprinters in the peloton. He moved to UAE Team Emirates at the end of 2018 season after two stage wins at the Tour de France. His palmares includes four stages at the Giro d’Italia and the 2016 Paris-Tours.
Quote: “This is one of the most important races for us at UAE Team Emirates and for our sponsors. We came with climbers and Alexander Kristoff and myself for the sprints. The TTT is not really good for us, but we’ll try to lose very little time on day one and win the sprints and GC.”
Bio: Born on 21 May 1985 in Douglas, Isle of Man (British Isles), Cavendish has won 15 stages at the Giro d’Italia, a mighty 30 at the Tour de France, and three at the Vuelta a España. In 2011, in Copenhagen, Denmark, he became UCI Road World Champion, and boasts one-day-race successes such as Milano-Sanremo (2009) and the National Road Race Championships. “Cav” has won the overall victory at the 2015 Dubai Tour and three stages at the Abu Dhabi Tour.
Quote: “Of course I have great memories here in the Emirates after I won the Dubai Tour and I’ve been the ambassador for the Abu Dhabi Tour, which was already a WorldTour race. This is an incredible country. It’s great to see all seven emirates in one race. As for my personal objectives, we came here with a GC team, so we’ll try to position these guys at the bottom of the climbs and I’ll try my best in the sprints.”
Bio: Viviani, born Isola della Scala, Italy, 7 February 1989, was 2018’s most successful rider with 18 victories. He also has an admirable record on the track, with the the gold medal at the Rio Olympic Games in the Omnium in 2016. Last year’s wins include the GC at the Dubai Tour, one stage at the Abu Dhabi Tour, four at the Giro d’Italia, three at the Vuelta a España and the Italian National Championship.
Quote: “The Dubai Tour was one of the most important steps to go into last season. It was probably the only stage race I could win in my career. With the Dubai Tour and the Abu Dhabi Tour coming together it make us feel that it’s more important now. The opening TTT puts pressure on everyone. The start list with all the champions here is very impressive!”
Photo Credit: LaPresse / Ferrari – Paolone