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Although he won the Tour de France in 2014, taking the biggest victory of his pro career, Vincenzo Nibali has decided to change his race programme slightly and will begin next season in the Dubai Tour.
Nibali rode the race earlier this season but did the Tour de San Luis beforehand; this time round, he will forgo the Argentinean event, with event organisers RCS Sport confirming that he will instead debut in Dubai.
“The Dubai Tour is a fast growing race, the organisation is constantly improving, and I hope it will grow even more,” said Nibali, speaking in the video interview below. “We need these kind of races at the beginning of the season, we can pedal in much nicer conditions.”
Nibali rode the race for the first time in 2014 and performed solidly. He was third on stage four to Boshar and ended the event twelfth overall. His form was still on the rise then and after netting 21st in Paris-Nice, 44th in Milan-Sanremo, 52nd in the Amstel Gold Race, 14th in Flèche Wallonne and 30th in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, he stepped things up in the Tour de Romandie, where he was fifth overall.
He went on to place 7th in the Critérium du Dauphiné, then quickly got into his stride in the Tour de France when he soloed to victory on stage two to Sheffield. He also won stage ten to La Plance des Belles Filles, stage 13 to Chamrousse and stage 18 to Hautacam, beating closest rival Jean Christophe Peraud (Ag2r la Mondiale) by a clear 7 minutes 37 seconds in the overall standings.
Nibali’s final race of the 2014 season was the Tour of Almaty on October 5th, where he placed tenth. Since then he has spent time in Dubai with his family and will return prior to the February 4th start next year.
The route of the race was unveiled on Monday and, as per teams’ requests, has been made more difficult. It has been upgraded to a UCI 2.HC-ranked event.
The latter change will enable more UCI WorldTour teams to take part.
It will begin on February 4th with a 145 kilometre Union Flag stage, beginning at the Dubai International Marine Club, winding along a twisting course through Dubai Marina and then beginning four loops of an 8.2 kilometre circuit.
The 185 kilometre Palm stage follows and runs into the desert, then looping via Jumeirah Islands to the famous Palm Jumeirah, where a fast finale will await.
Stage three will likely be the big decider, with the 205 kilometre leg starting at the Dubai International Marine Club, then travelling into the Hajar Mountains, where the riders will tackle a series of short climbs prior to the final ramp up to the top of the Hatta Dam. This final ascent will reach a 17% gradient and will ensure a deserving winner.
The race will then conclude with a likely bunch gallop in front of the Burj Khalifa.