In the first three editions of the Abu Dhabi Tot it all came down to the final haul up the Jebel Hafeet, which is a 10.8 kilometres climb at 6.6%. Last year, Rui Costa won the decisive stage by besting Ilnur Zakarin in a two-up sprint, while Tom Dumoulin came in 10 seconds down on them. Bauke Mollema finished in fourth at half a minute. Usually, these are the gaps after climbing Jebel Hafeet.
The 2018 Abu Dhabi Tour is the first edition with an individual time trial. The 12 kilometres course is flat and in theory this offers specialists an opportunity to put 20 to 30 seconds into the lesser time trialists. The likes of Dumoulin, Kelderman and Zakarin must be pleased.
The extension changes the dynamics of the race. The time trial comes after three flat stages and before the mountain stage to Jebel Hafeet. So riders who lost time in the chrono-race are forced to attack at the final climb, while riders who did well at the time trial just have to react.
Possibly the race boils down to time bonuses. The first three riders at Jebeel Hafeet gain 10, 6 and 4 seconds.
Favourites 2018 Abu Dhabi Tour
*** Tom Dumoulin, Wilco Kelderman, Ilnur Zakarin
** Ion Izagirre, Alejandro Valverde, Miguel Ángel López, Rohan Dennis
* Fabio Aru, Rui Costa, Rafal Majka, Julian Alaphilippe, Simon Yates, Michael Woods
Abu Dhabi Tour 2018: Route maps, height profiles, and more
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