Team Novo Nordisk Returns to the World Tour at the Inaugural UAE Tour
14 February 2019
Race: UAE Tour (February 24-March 2, 2019)
Country: United Arab Emirates
Total Distance: 1,090 kilometers
Race Class: WT
Team Novo Nordisk is taking a mixed squad of sprinters and climbers to the inaugural UAE Tour when the seven-day race kicks off on Sunday, February 24th.
“The UAE Tour has it all with a team time trial and stages designed for bunch sprints and summit finishes,” said Team Novo Nordisk Senior Vice President of Athletics Vassili Davidenko. “Based on our latest physiological tests, the team is stronger than ever before, and we are very excited to start our season at a World Tour race.”
Following a recent training camp in Altea, Spain, Team Novo Nordisk will start the race in Abu Dhabi with a seven-man squad featuring Mehdi Benhamouda (FRA), Sam Brand (GBR-IOM), Fabio Calabria (AUS), Declan Irvine (AUS), Peter Kusztor (HUN), Andrea Peron (ITA) and Charles Planet (FRA). Two-time former Hungarian national champion Kusztor is making his Team Novo Nordisk debut after being diagnosed with diabetes in August. This will be neo-pro Irvine’s first race in the United Arab Emirates.
“This year is slightly different from previous years because we are kicking off our season at the end of February as opposed to the beginning of February or even January,” explained Davidenko. “We’ve spent these extra weeks dialing in our training, and I believe we will arrive in solid form for a race of this caliber. Leading the team will be Charles Planet and Peter Kusztor. Peter brings more than a decade of experience and his leadership will be critical. More than anything, I’m excited to see him officially pull on the Changing Diabetes jersey to race.”
Twenty-five-year-old Planet raced three editions of the Dubai Tour and two editions of the Abu Dhabi Tour and said he loves starting his season in the UAE.
“When they combined the Dubai Tour and Abu Dhabi Tour, it meant that my first race of the season was pushed much later into the season, but I’m glad to see that the new race has expanded into a seven-day event,” explained Planet. “I’m eager to test my legs. Personally, I’m aiming for breakaways and would like to earn a good result on the Hatta Dam stage, and I will support Andrea in the sprints and Peter on the climbs.”
The inaugural UAE Tour is a UCI World Tour race that blends the standout features of the Abu Dhabi Tour and Dubai Tour. The race begins in Abu Dhabi with a team time trial where all seven Team Novo Nordisk athletes compete together in a race against the clock. The overall classification is expected to go to an all-arounder, but the sprinters will have their chances on stages two, five and seven. The other stages include significant elevation gains with Stage 3 finishing up Jebel Hafeet, Stage 4 concluding with the iconic Hatta Dam finish, and Stage 6 moving into new territory as the first race in Middle Eastern cycling history to tackle Jebel Jais, the highest peak in the entire UAE.
Team Novo Nordisk Roster UAE Tour (February 24-March 2):
Mehdi Benhamouda (France), Sam Brand (GBR – Isle of Man), Fabio Calabria (Australia), Declan Irvine (Australia), Peter Kusztor (Hungary), Andrea Peron (Italy) and Charles Planet (France).
Sport Director: Vassili Davidenko (USA), Massimo Podenzana (ITA).