2022 UAE Tour Overall Preview

The world tour is back! This is the first “big” race of the season, although most will still say the season doesn’t begin until Omloop. The race follows a familiar pattern, lots of flat sprint stages to attract some of the fastest riders in the world, a short TT and then two mountaintop finishes. It’s not the most exciting race in the world, but it’s an important test, nonetheless.

Stage 1

The opening stage takes place out in the desert, we’ll have to see if we get a similar stage to 2021.

Stage 2

Should be a big sprint, they only spend a short time out in the desert.

Stage 3

Just 9 TT kilometres this year, which is good as it keeps the gaps down to a minimum.

Stage 4

The first of the mountaintop finishes, which this year is Jebel Jais, the easier of the two climbs. This is a much better order for the stages, as it’s very difficult to get gaps on this climb, it normally ends in a sprint. The gradients aren’t overly difficult and it always seems to be a headwind, we’ll see if this year throws up something different.

Stage 5

Another sprint.

Stage 6

Yet another boring sprint.

Stage 7

The big day for the GC, the climb of Jebel Hafeet. Will Pogačar claim another win?

Contenders

UAE – yet again, they are keen on winning their home race and arrive with the strongest team. All eyes will be drawn to Pogačar, the defending champion, but there are a few doubts about his current shape due to a recent COVID positive. That was several weeks ago now, so I would expect him to be going well, but you just don’t know. They do have an excellent second option in João Almeida, I’m interested to see how he develops away from QuickStep. Having two of the strongest riders in the race gives them a massive advantage, especially as both are good on a TT bike. It’s their race to lose.

Adam Yates – always seems to start the season in amazing form, but then loses some of his edge as the year goes on. I would be much happier to see him start the season a little “colder”, in the hope of timing his peak for Liège and a shot at a grand tour. Last year he came very close to cracking Pogačar on Jebel Hafeet, something that not many have ever done. We’ll have to see how hot he starts the season.

Aleksandr Vlasov – already got an impressive win under his belt, his performance in Valenciana was very strong. Winning is a habit, now that he’s started, he won’t want to stop. Bora have a good team here to support him, he’ll be keen to compare himself to Pogačar, as Vlasov has every chance of reaching the podium in a grand tour this year.

Pello Bilbao – it’s good to see Pello starting to get more leadership opportunities, he deserves them. His 4th place in the Valenciana Queen stage showed that his current level is good, this is a race he should be doing well in. Bahrain also have Gino Mäder as another option, both riders have what it takes to challenge for the podium.

Romain Bardet – last season was a good one for the French climber, his move to DSM was a success. 7th in the Giro, before winning a stage in Burgos and the Vuelta, it was great to see him back to his best. He’ll be happy the TT is short, it means he can approach the mountain stages still close on GC, then we’ll see what he’s got.

Tom Dumoulin – I’m looking forward to seeing a fit, healthy and happy Dumoulin. One of the most talented cyclists of his generation, I think we’re all excited to see him back racing. He’s had a spell up at altitude in Colombia, I think he’s going to start the season well.

Jan Hirt – took a hugely impressive win in Oman, his performance on the Green Mountain was his best ride at this level. Can he take it up a notch? The level here will be much higher, can Hirt rise to challenge?

Prediction Time

Got to be a winning start to the year for Tadej Pogačar.

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