UAE Tour: everything you need to know

The key info on the Middle East's only WorldTour race

Date: Monday February 19, 2024 - Sunday February 25, 2024
Start: Madinat Zayed
Finish: Jebel Hafeet 
Total distance: 985.1km
Stages: Seven
Defending champion: Remco Evenepoel (Soudal–Quick-Step)

The only UCI WorldTour race in the Middle East, the UAE Tour, began in 2019 after the Abu Dhabi Tour and the Dubai Tour merged. Now in its sixth edition, the seven-stage race attracts some of the most illustrious riders in the peloton, aiming for stage wins and for the top prize, a chance at the red jersey. 

As the third WorldTour race in the men’s calendar after the Tour Down Under and Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in Australia, the UAE Tour attracts many sprinters thanks to the route’s flat wide roads that have come to define this race. In 2023, fast finishers such as Tim Merlier (Soudal–Quick-Step), Juan Sebastián Molano (UAE Team Emirates), and Dylan Groenewegen (Jayco-Alula) took the top honours, winning the flat stages throughout the week. But in the end, it was Remco Evenepeol who took the overall GC title after an excellent performance on the race’s first mountain stage, which saw him in the red jersey for the remainder. 

The first winner of the UAE Tour was Primož Roglič in 2019, followed by Adam Yates in 2020. Tadej Pogačar won the race in 2021 and successfully defended his title the following year in 2022. It has not yet been confirmed whether any of the previous winners, including Evenepoel, will be back for the sixth edition. But there are a number of sprinters who will certainly be on the hunt for stage wins – Mark Cavendish (Astana Qazaqstan), Olav Kooij (Visma-Lease a Bike), Tim Merlier (Soudal–Quick-Step), Fabio Jakobsen (DSM-Firmenich PostNL), and Sam Bennett (Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale Team). Third-place position last year, Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates), is also confirmed for the race in the Middle East, hoping to climb to the top step of the podium this time around. 

UAE Tour teams:

  • Alpecin-Deceuninck
  • Astana Qazaqstan
  • Bahrain-Victorious
  • Bora-Hansgrohe
  • Cofidis
  • Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale 
  • EF Education-EasyPost
  • Groupama-FDJ
  • Ineos Grenadiers
  • Intermarché-Wanty
  • Israel-Premier Tech
  • Lidl-Trek
  • Lotto Dstny
  • Movistar
  • Soudal–Quick-step
  • Team dsm-firmenich PostNL
  • Jayco Alula 
  • Visma-Lease a Bike
  • Tudor Pro Cycling Team
  • UAE Team Emirates  

UAE Tour route: 

The opening stage of the UAE Tour is what we’ve come to expect from this race in the Middle East – wide, open roads surrounded by the shimmering desert sand. The first half of the opening stage is completely flat as it heads to Liwa. From there, the route undulates towards Moreeb Dune, where the peloton will make their way around the 18.1km Moreeb Dune cycle path twice, featuring some punchy double digital gradients. The stage closes on a straight, slight uphill of 3% to the line.

Stage two is an individual time trial on Al Hudayriat Island. The 12.1km course is flat and features two U-turn bends and a few right-hand bends. If the wind is on the rider’s side, this will be a course for those time trial specialists. 

The next stage sees the first of two mountain stages in this year’s race. Divided into two distinct halves – the first half of stage two is relatively flat, and the second half is dominated by Jebel Jais, a 20km climb with a constant gradient of 5%, peaking at 7% in the final two kilometres. The climb has become a regular feature in the UAE Tour, and last year’s race saw Movistar’s Einer Rubio take the stage win. 

Stages three to five are designed for the sprinters, with each featuring little elevation as it covers more of the country’s straight open roads through the desert. All with flat finishes, we expect three back-to-back days ending in bunch sprints. 

The final stage is where the GC will be decided, on the race’s iconic Jebel Hafeet. The climb winds through expansive hairpin bends on a wide, open road for 10.9km. Its average gradient sits at 6.7% but can peak up to 11% in some places and has a finishing kick over the line. In last year’s race, this was the climb that Adam Yates secured himself a third-place finish on the GC, catapulting himself from 10th to third place, one minute behind leader Evenepoel. The road leading to the bottom Jebel Hafeet is on the country's flat, open roads. 

Stage one: Madinat Zayed - Liwa Palace / 143km 
Stage two: Al Hudayriat Island - Al Hudayriat Island (ITT) / 12.1km
Stage three: Al Marjan Island - Jebel Jais / 173km 
Stage four: Dubai - Dubai Harbour / 171km 
Stage five: Al Aqah - Umm Al Quwain / 182km 
Stage six: Louvre Abu Dhabi - Abu Dhabi Breakwater / 138km
Stage seven: Al Ain - Jebel Hafeet / 161km

Women’s UAE Tour 

Date: Thursday February 8, 2024 - Sunday February 11, 2024 
Start: Dubai
Finish: Abu Dhabi Breakwater
Total distance: 468km
Stages: Four
Defending champion: Elisa Longo Borghini (Lidl-Trek)

After a successful first edition, the Women’s UAE Tour returns for a second year running. The race remains in the same format with four stages spread across four days from Thursday February 8, until Sunday February 11, 2024. Last year, Lidl-Trek’s Elisa Longo Borghini took the overall title with an impressive performance on the country’s highest peak and the race’s only mountain stage, Jebel Hafeet, which saw her take the overall lead. However, the UAE Tour is more commonly known for its wide, flat roads, and this meant that the sprinters took charge on the three other stages, with none other than Lorena Wiebes (SD Worx) and Charlotte Kool (Team DSM-Firmenich PostNL) battling it out for stage wins. 

It has been confirmed that Longo Borghini will be back to defend her title for a second year alongside her team-mate and climbing sensation, Gaia Realini. However, there will also be several Tour de France Femmes stage winners to contend with in the form of Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx-Protime), Emma Norsgaard (Movistar) and Ricarda Bauerfeind (Canyon//SRAM Racing). Charlotte Kool will also be a rider to watch during this race, having won two out of the four stages in last year’s race. 

Women’s UAE Tour teams:

  • Canyon//SRAM Racing
  • Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling Team
  • Cofidis
  • EF Education-Cannondale
  • FDJ-Suez
  • Human Powered Health 
  • Laboral Kutxa-Fundación Euskadi 
  • Lidl-Trek
  • Movistar
  • Team dsm-firmenich PostNL
  • SD Worx-Protime
  • UAE Team ADQ 

Women’s UAE Tour route: 

The women’s route consists of three sprint stages and one mountain stage, similar to the first-ever edition last year. The race starts in Dubai with a 122km sprint stage, finishing in Dubai Harbour. The second stage is of a similar format, but a large portion of this stage snakes through the desert, and therefore wind will come into play when racing along the wide, open, flat roads. The last 10 kilometres are straight and therefore, another bunch sprint finish is expected. 

Stage three is the one and only mountain stage featuring the UAE’s iconic Jebel Hafeet climb that has become synonymous with this race in the Middle East. In the lead-up to the climb, the peloton will race on flat roads until 114km, then the climbing begins. This is where the overall GC could be shaken up, with those with good climbing abilities able to gain some time back from the sprinters after two back-to-back sprint days. 

The final stage of the race is another sprint stage starting from Louvre Abu Dhabi and finishing at Abu Dhabi Breakwater after 105 kilometres of racing. The finishing kilometres are once again flat, finishing the race off with another sprint finish to the line. 

Stage one: Dubai - Dubai Harbour / 122km 
Stage two: Al Mirfa - Madinat Zayed / 113km 
Stage three: Al Ain - Jebel Hafeet / 128km 
Stage four: Louvre Abu Dhabi - Abu Dhabi Breakwater / 105km

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