[Article was written before the start of the Dubai Tour and has not been updated.]
The Dubai Tour is a race for sprinters. Usually, the GC is won through time bonuses; the rider with most stage wins, wins the overall. In 2015, Mark Cavendish sprinted to victory in two out of four stages and took the GC, Marcel Kittel did the same in 2016 before he even outdid himself in 2017 by winning three out of four stages and the overall.
Prerequisite to win the Dubai Tour is not losing too much time at the steep Hatta Dam on the penultimate day of racing. The climb to the top is short and explosive, which usually suits fast finishers. Two years ago non-climber Kittel was the best sprinter at the Hatta Dam, finishing merely 4 seconds down on winner Lobato. (Last year, the Hatta Dam stage was cancelled due to extreme weather.)
Something else to reckon with is strong winds. All stages are played out on the flat and sometimes even along the coast, so echelons are looming everywhere.
We have to go back to the inaugural edition – in 2014 – for the only time that the overall victor of the Dubai Tour didn’t win most stages. It was also the only edition with an individual time trial. It was held on day one and Taylor Phinney powered to victory, opening open such a gap that no sprinter was able to threaten him. Although Marcel Kittel did win all three other stages, he ended up sixth on GC.
Favourites 2018 Dubai Tour
*** Marcel Kittel, Dylan Groenewegen, Mark Cavendish
** John Degenkolb, Nacer Bouhanni, Alexander Kristoff, Elia Viviani
* Magnus Cort Nielsen, Giacomo Nizzolo, Sonny Colbrelli
Dubai Tour 2018: Route maps, height profiles, and more
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