Mitchelton-SCOTT looking for more success at the Abu Dhabi TourSat 17 Feb 2018
After a great start to 2018 Mitchelton-SCOTT go into next week’s Abu Dhabi Tour with in form Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan looking to repeat his stage win of last year in the third UCI WorldTour event of the season.
The five-day stage race starts on Wednesday and Ewan will line up alongside GC hopeful and the best young rider of the 2017 Tour de France Simon Yates with a strong team of sprint support led by Slovenian champion Luka Mezgec, lead out specialist Roger Kluge and new signing Jack Bauer.
Veteran strong man and Canadian national time trial champion Svein Tuft returns to top level competition and Yates will have strong support on the fifth stage summit finish from Czech climber Roman Kreuziger.
The fourth edition of the mini stage race opens with three flat sprint stages around the capital of the United Arab Emirates peninsula before a 12.6kilometre individual time trial on stage four draws out the GC contenders ahead of the final stage summit finish at Jebel Hafeet.
Jack Bauer (NZL, 32)
Caleb Ewan (AUS, 23)
Roger Kluge (DE, 32)
Roman Kreuziger (CZ, 31)
Luka Mezgec (SLO, 29)
Svein Tuft (CAN, 40)
Simon Yates (GBR, 25)
After Ewan took the victory against a strong field on stage four in 2017 the main objective is another stage win this time around and a good result on the general classification with Yates.
With the first three stages all flat and expected to conclude in bunch sprints the onus will be on the Mitchelton-SCOTT sprint train to deliver Ewan and give the 2018 Australian criterium champion the best possible chance of another stage win.
Caleb Ewan – Sprinter/Stage winner 2017:
“Going back to Abu Dhabi will be really good and I am excited to be returning, we have a really strong team for the race made up of most of the sprint train and the group that helped me get the win last week in Almeria.”
“It will be really good if we can maintain our momentum and keep that winning streak going. I think Almeria gave us a lot of confidence that we can take into the next races, most of us hadn’t raced together since the Tour of Britain last year so it was good that we got straight back into winning ways.
“Everyone seems to be going well and the atmosphere within the group is really positive. We will arrive in Abu Dhabi straight from training camp in Spain and the objective is to make a repeat of last year and get another stage win, it would be great if we can go one better and get more than one win.
"It’s going to be tough, there is a strong sprint field set to line up and it will be most of the guys I’ll be competing against at the Tour de France in July so it’s going to be good to get in the bunch with them again.”
Simon Yates – GC:
“I am looking forward to Abu Dhabi, it should be a good test of my form as we head into the later races in the season. To begin we have the flat, sprint stages where Caleb will be the protected rider and I will lay low and try to conserve as much energy as possible.”
“Then we have the time trial and the summit finish, the time trial should be interesting on stage four. It will be my first TT since the Vuelta a Espana last year and of course the summit finish on the final day of racing will be a true test of my form and provide a great spectacle for the conclusion of the race.”
Sport director Dave McPartland:
“We go into this year’s Abu Dhabi Tour with options for both stage victories and the general classification, with Caleb for the sprints and Simon for the overall. It would be great for Caleb to increase his stage win tally here and the target is for a repeat performance of last year’s victory.”
“Caleb comes into Abu Dhabi on the back of a sensational start to the year and the goal will be to build on that as he lines up with a field of competition that he is yet to compete against in 2018.
“Our sprint group has been doing some very good work already this season and it is important that we consolidate in that area and continue to build on the success. This will be Simon’s second race of the year after Valencia and he will have strong support from Roman.”
Wednesday 21st February, Stage 1: Madinat Zayed to Madinet Zayed, 189km
Thursday 22nd February, Stage 2: Yas Island to Yas Island, 154km
Friday 23rd February, Stage 3: Abu Dhabi to Abu Dhabi, 133km
Saturday 24th February, Stage 4: Al Maryah (ITT), 12.6km
Sunday, 25th February, Stage 5: Al Ain to Jebel Hafeet, 199km
Photos courtesy of Getty Images