Procycling

BUNCHED SPRINTS

For years, the unofficial motto of Dubai was ‘build it and they will come’. A construction boom and an ambition to become a global sports, business and leisure centre attracted visitors in the millions and a skyscape of concrete and glass sprang up, where just half a century ago a town of 50,000 sat quietly on the southeastern edge of the Persian Gulf. Dubai was followed by Abu Dhabi, and the United Arab Emirates is a regular stopping point on the circuits of many sports, including cycling.

The UAE Tour is officially two years old, though its immediate predecessors, the Tours of Dubai and Abu Dhabi date back to 2014 and 2015 respectively. But it has quickly worked out a USP: the organisers have built a race which gives sprinters a lot of opportunities, and the sprinters have come. The race has several flat stages, favourable weather and wide roads. In an era where the grand tours are inserting all manner of obstacles into even their apparently flat stages and reducing options for sprinters, the UAE Tour is giving them every possible chance.

This coincides with an interesting time in sprinting. Gone is the era of the one sprint king. In the past, riders like Mario Cipollini and Mark Cavendish dominated the bunch finishes.

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