Race: Abu Dhabi Tour
Country: United Arab Emirates
Total Distance: 669 kilometers
Race Class: WT
Team Novo Nordisk is ready to take on the Abu Dhabi Tour when it kicks off at the Baynounan Educational Complex in Madinat Zayed on Thursday, February 23rd. The four-day race serves as Team Novo Nordisk’s debut at the Abu Dhabi Tour and only its second World Tour stage race to date.
The Abu Dhabi Tour serves as our first World Tour race this season. With World Tour status, this race serves as an important early season test for all teams,” said Team Novo Nordisk Senior Vice President of Athletics Vassili Davidenko. “With mainly sprint stages and one uphill finish, we are eager to find out where our form stands against the other teams.”
The Abu Dhabi Tour sees Team Novo Nordisk returning to the United Arab Emirates after racing earlier this month at the Dubai Tour. The world’s first all-diabetes pro cycling team is arriving with a roster that primarily features experienced veterans. Team Novo Nordisk’s squad includes Fabio Calabria (Australia), Stephen Clancy (Ireland), Joonas Henttala (Finland), David Lozano (Spain), Andrea Peron (Italy), Charles Planet (France), Quentin Valognes (France) and Martijn Verschoor (Netherlands).
According to Davidenko, the team will look to Peron in the sprints, and the goal will be a top 10 finish on the flat stages.
“Andrea is one of our best sprinters. Unfortunately, he missed the Dubai Tour due to the flu, but his form is growing, and he is healthy now,” said Davidenko. “Our strategy on the flat stages will be to fully support and protect our sprinters for the bunch sprint. Like always, teamwork is critical throughout this week.”
The third edition of the Abu Dhabi Tour is primarily a sprinter’s race, but the third stage culminates with an 11-kilometer long climb with gradients of 11 percent. Sixteen of the eighteen World Tour teams will line-up with an additional four wild card professional continental squads totaling 20 teams and 160 riders taking the start.
With only one climbing stage, Davidenko stressed that Team Novo Nordisk’s climbers Javier Megias and Charles Planet need to show up fully prepared and ready for the finishing climb. The 23-year-old Planet said he is extra motivated for the Jabel Hafeet climb because it will be his first true test of the season.
“When I raced at the Dubai Tour earlier this month, my focus was on the Hatta Dam stage and then it was canceled. I was disappointed because I knew I had good legs,” said Planet. “At the Abu Dhabi Tour, I want to be active in breakaways, help Martijn and Andrea in the sprints and support Javi throughout the mountain stage. I like shorter climbs than this one. My plan is to be there for Javi, and if I have the opportunity to try, I will go because this race serves as great training and a real test heading into Tirreno-Adriatico at the beginning of March.”
The Abu Dhabi Tour starts on Thursday with an 188-kilometer race that runs entirely through the desert and begins and ends in Madinat Zayed. The day should end with a bunch finish with wide and straight final kilometers that are punctuated by wide-curved roundabouts.
Team Novo Nordisk Roster Abu Dhabi Tour (Feb 23-February 26):
Fabio Calabria (Australia), Stephen Clancy (Ireland), Joonas Henttala (Finland), David Lozano (Spain), Andrea Peron (Italy), Charles Planet (France), Quentin Valognes (France), Martijn Verschoor (Netherlands).
Sport Director: Vassili Davidenko (USA), Lionel Marie (France).