Remco Evenepoel and Tim Merlier headline our team for the second World Tour stage race of the season.

The fifth edition of the UAE Tour follows the now familiar pattern, with four stages for the sprinters – Dubai, Al Mirfa, Umm al Quwain and Abu Dhabi – and the traditional summit finishes where the general classification will be shaped and decided: Jebel Jais (20km, 5%) and Jebel Hafeet (10km, 8%).

In addition to these, the organisers have introduced a team time trial for the first time since the inaugural edition, in 2019. The 17.3km stage against the clock, taking place on the wide, flat roads around the Khalifa Port, won’t play a major role in the outcome, but should make the fight on the climbs more interesting, as could happen also if the crosswinds, a constant presence in the past, decide to join the party again.

For Remco Evenepoel, this will be his only second appearance at the UAE Tour following the one on his debut season in 2019, and the World Champion will rely on a strong squad which will include Josef Cerny, Mauro Schmid, Pieter Serry and Louis Vervaeke. In the bunch sprints, Belgian Champion Tim Merlier – already victorious in Oman last week – has trusted lead-out man Bert Van Lerberghe at his side as he hopes to continue his excellent start to the season with the Wolfpack.

“We travel to the UAE with a lot of confidence, given by the strong team we have for this race and the shape our two leaders – Remco and Tim – have displayed in their first races of the season. The parcours is more or less the same, with the presence of the team time trial making things more interesting than in the past. We’ll see where we are after that second stage, but we aim for a good GC and some wins, so hopefully things will go as planned for us and we’ll have a solid outing next week”, said Soudal Quick-Step sports director Geert Van Bondt.


Photo credit: ©Maximiliano Blanco / Getty Images

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