Campagnolo riders, including Tadej Pogačar, will line up in Madinat Zayed this Sunday at the biggest race of the season so far.
Sunday 20th February sees Campagnolo teams and riders do battle at the fourth edition of the UAE Tour. The Middle East’s only UCI WorldTour race takes place over seven stages, attracting 17 UCI WorldTeams and three ProTeams. Here, we assess who’ll be challenging from the Campagnolo camp plus we analyse each stage
UAE TEAM EMIRATES
This is an important race for the UAE team, coming as it does on home soil. It’s why 2021 champion and two-time Tour de France champion Tadej Pogačar, using Campagnolo’s Super Record EPS groupset and Campagnolo Bora Ultra WTO wheels, is back to defend his title.
This is the 23-year-old Slovenian’s maiden race of 2022 so it’s impossible to gauge his form. What we do know is that if Pogacar replicates his UAE Tour performance of 2021, he’ll be the one to beat.
Twelve months ago, Pogačar slipped into the leader’s jersey on stage two and never looked back. On stage three he held off Adam Yates to win atop Jebel Hafeet and would ultimately beat Yates by 35secs in GC.
Pogačar will be supported by a powerful team including new recruit George Bennett. The 31-year-old New Zealander joined UAE Team Emirates in the close season and is regarded as one of the finest domestiques in the business.
Fernando Gaviria, Rui Costa and Rafal Majka provide further firepower for arguably the strongest team in world cycling.
AG2R CITROËN TEAM
The Campagnolo-using French team head to the UAE Tour with a range of options. Expect Marc Sarreau to be there or thereabouts at the four sprint stages, albeit this is the 28-year-old’s first race of the 2022 season so he might be a little ring rusty.
Twenty-nine-year-old Geoffrey Bouchard will look to challenge on the climbs of Jebel Jais and Jebel Hafeet on stages four and seven, respectively. Bouchard served notice of his incredible ascending ability by winning the king of the mountains classification at the 2021 Giro d’Italia.
And it’ll be interesting to see how former Liege-Bastogne-Liege winner Bob Jungels performs as he seeks full strength after being diagnosed with arterial endofibrosis in 2021.
Here’s what awaits the riders at the UAE Tour.
Stage one: Madinat Zayed to Madinat Zayed, 185km. Sunday 20th February 2022
This is definitely a stage for the sprinters so expect Gaviria to be there or thereabouts. The parcours is almost flat and cuts its way through the desert.
Stage two: Hudaryiat Island to Abu Dhabi Breakwater, 173km. Monday 21st February
Could this be two out of two for Gaviria? On paper it certainly suits him as it’s another flat day. The only thing that could disrupt an out-and-out sprint is if the winds really blow, which they could do on the section along the coast. Formula One fans should look out for the Yas Marina Circuit.
Stage three: Ajman to Ajman, 9km time trial. Tuesday 22nd February
Last year’s time trial saw Pogačar gain time over his rivals, which laid the foundations for victory. Will history repeat itself in 2022?
Stage four: Fujairah Fort to Jebel Jais, 181km. Wednesday 23rd February
The first mountainous effort of this year’s race sees a 20km climb to the Jebel Jais finish. The ascent is 1491m above sea level, averages 5.4% and peaks at 7.4%.
Stage five: Ras Al Khaimah Corniche to Al Marjan Island, 182km. Thursday 24th February
The Arabian sun will once again shine on the sprinters on this pan-flat stage. Again, the wind could play a part with the domestiques earning their money to avoid any splits in the field.
Stage six: Expo 2020 Dubai to Expo 2020 Dubai, 180km. Friday 25th February
Duabi’s 2020 Expo site plays host to the start and finish of stage six, which once again is a sprinter’s paradise. Mind you, the finish is quite technical – something the leadouts will have to take note of to maintain a strong position.
Stage seven: Al Ain to Jebel Hafeet, 148km. Saturday 26th February
The final stage begins at the base of Jebel Hafeet and sees riders head out into the desert before returning to face Jebel Hafeet. It’s shorter than Jebel Jais but arguably fiercer, its average gradient of 7.2% peaking at 10.8%.
Pogačar showed in 2021 he can pass this test with flying colours.
Can he do the same in 2022 and retain his title?
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