UAE Tour 2024 – Stage 1 Preview

This is an odd stage. Even more so as the Google Van has not seen a lot in UAE, making it very difficult to trust the profile.

Route

1600m of climbing. You can see the short climbs but without any street views I can’t tell you much about them. What I can say is that they will use a cycling track. Moreeb Dune cycle path (18.1 km each lap) characterised by rather steep ups and downs with double digit gradients.

Two times they climb the “dune climb”, 1600m at 7.8%. They used it back in 2022 on stage 1 where the headwind killed the stage.

Finale

They leave the circuit with 26 km, heading North. There is still a few bumps on the road with a 450m at 12.4% with 16 km left. Inside the last 5 km, we have two roundabouts before a slightly uphill finish.

According to the official website and SanLuca, the road does rise 3% to the line. As Veloviewer says 0% and SanLuca says 5.9%, I guess it is somewhere in the middle. Plus, I can’t find the roadbook so we are in low-quality-preview-zone just now.

Weather

Wind from the N, 7-8 m/s. It means mostly a tailwind and headwind. Despite what I wrote in the GC preview, I think this one holds together.

A headwind sprint.

Contenders

With a principle of max 10 riders named here; Molano, Ackermann and Viviani didn’t make the list.

Groves – he has one of the best men in the world at his disposal. Jonas Rickaert. The thing about Groves is the fact that he rarely race against the top-top sprinters. He tends to get send to races where he is the fastest man already and it is more about if he can survive the climbs. I think he will be overmatched but a top-10 is certain.

Cavendish – Mørkøv and Bol. They got some motivation in Colombia, we will see if they can continue their form. A top-10, I don’t think he has the speed anymore. Maybe he proves me wrong.

Bauhaus – the big German. In a chaotic sprint such as this, he is difficult to move out of the way. Plus, he has Nikias Arndt to help him, not a bad lead-out rider. It would be a massive win but he could finish on the podium on a very good day.

Welsford – same set of helpers here as in Down Under. Very smart. They will hope they can keep the form going, the looked very good Down Under. Van Poppel is an elite lead-out man.

Sam Bennett – don’t like the support he has been given, a top-10.

Gaviria – usually on his own anyway. A top-10.

Merlier – Lerberghe and Warlop. It is a downgrade from what he is used too. He has two wins to his name already in 2024, but I doubt he will find another one tomorrow.

Jakobsen – what the hell happened in Oman? New team, new lead-out rider. He has the speed but they don’t impress me yet. I need to be proved wrong.

Groenewegen – another year with Mezgec. That is very good news for them. However, illness in AlUla Tour is not optimal against the competition here. We will see if he grows stronger throughout the stages.

Kooij – I guess it will be Tosh & the Twins helping him. Is that enough? I think he may struggle with positioning but he usually knows how to surf wheels. A podium placement.

Who will win?

I will go with form and take a win for Sam Welsford.

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