WorldTeam Caleb Ewan and Thomas De Gendt kick off season at UAE Tour
Lotto Soudal leaders Caleb Ewan and Thomas De Gendt will begin their 2021 cycling season at the UAE Tour. This seven-day stage race in the Middle East will be the first WorldTour event of the season for Lotto Soudal.
The fast guys will be more than happy with four possible sprint stages. Day two of the UAE Tour features a 13-kilometre individual time trial, which will give the GC its first shape. In both stage three and stage five, the peloton faces a summit finish, which will most likely be decisive for the overall standings. However, the risk of echelons forming is never far away in the desert.
The UAE Tour will be the first race of the season for Caleb Ewan. The 26-year-old Australian has already won three stages in the Middle East and is looking forward to compete against the world’s best sprinters. Ewan will be supported by Roger Kluge, Jasper De Buyst and Tosh Van der Sande, among others.
“Preparations for the new season have been quite good”, says Caleb Ewan. “It is the first time I stayed in Europe for the winter and I really had to get used to the cold. The training camp in January was perfect to lay the foundations for the season ahead. The UAE Tour is generally the first race of the season where all the big sprinters come together. With for example Bennett, Ackermann, Gaviria, Nizzolo, Viviani, Bauhaus and Philipsen, the competition is definitely looking tough. Therefore, the UAE Tour is always a nice opportunity to test yourself against the other guys and see who’s going well and who’s not. Just like previous years, there are quite a few opportunities for the sprinters, so I am definitely looking forward to it.”
Also Thomas De Gendt and Harm Vanhoucke will be racing their first kilometres of the season at the UAE Tour. The 22-year-old Australian Harry Sweeny will make his pro debut for Lotto Soudal in the Middle East.
“The UAE Tour should be a great race to get my first season as a pro started and I am really excited”, begins Harry Sweeny. “There are quite some opportunities for the team. There are several sprint stages for Caleb and Harm Vanhoucke can test himself during the mountain stages. I think that I am versatile enough to help the team on both terrains. My role at the race will be to act as the second last or third last rider in the lead-out for Caleb, but it is only my first race as a pro – and immediately at WorldTour level – so we’ll see how things play out. I definitely can’t wait to race!”
Line-up Lotto Soudal: Jasper De Buyst, Thomas De Gendt, Caleb Ewan, Roger Kluge, Harry Sweeny, Harm Vanhoucke and Tosh Van der Sande.
Stage 1 – Sunday 21 February: Al Dhafra Castle – Al Mirfa (176 km)
Stage 2 – Monday 22 February: Al Hudayriat Island – Al Hudayriat Island (ITT – 13 km)
Stage 3 – Tuesday 23 February: Al Ain Strata Manufacturing – Jebel Hafeet (166 km)
Stage 4 – Wednesday 24 February: Al Marjan Island – Al Marjan Island (204 km)
Stage 5 – Thursday 25 February: Fujairah Intl Marine Club – Jebel Jais (170 km)
Stage 6 – Friday 26 February: Dubai – Deira Islands – Dubai – Palm Jumeirah (165 km)
Stage 7 – Saturday 27 February: Yas Mall – Abu Dhabi Breakwater (147 km)