Six representatives of the peloton at the start of the 2018 Dubai Tour spoke to the media this afternoon in The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi. The high class bunch including double Dubai Tour winner and defending champion, Marcel Kittel, (Katusha Alpecin), 2015 Dubai Tour winner Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data), Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors), John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo), Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) and Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis, Solutions Credits) were joined by H.E. Saeed Hareb, Dubai Sports Council General Secretary.
H.E. Saeed Hareb, Dubai Sports Council General Secretary
Quote: “Thanks to the riders all the friends of the Dubai for being back for the fifth edition. Five years means a lot to us. We’ve had top champions here every year and it’s no different this time. I’m happy to see them. Dubai is a great destination for people from all around the world. We’ll race in every Emirate, sometimes on flat roads, sometimes in the hills. We have a new starting location for every stage: Skydive, which is walking distance from The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi. I’m looking forward to another great show over the next five days.”
Marcel Kittel (GER – Katusha Alpecin)
Bio: Born on 11 May 1988 in Arnstadt, Germany, and a professional rider since 2011, Kittel’s palmares includes 86 victories, with eight stages at the Dubai Tour and the last two years’ general classification (Blue Jersey) and point classification (Red Jersey) along with 19 Grand Tour stage wins (four at the Giro d’Italia, 14 at the Tour de France – five of them being in the 2017 edition – and one at the Vuelta a España).
Quote: “I came here like every year for my first race of the season. I’ve changed team but my motivation is the same. We’ll try our best to go for the victory, but we’ll take it day by day, as we’re not yet concentrated on scoring the hat trick. Elia Viviani certainly has a very good team, with my old train, but I also have a strong team with a lot of German speaking riders. I’m curious to find out how good we are.”
Mark Cavendish (British Isles – Team Dimension Data)
Bio: Cavendish was born on 21 May 1985 in Douglas, Isle of Man (British Isles). “Cav” has won 15 stages at the Giro d’Italia, a mighty 30 at the Tour de France, and three at the Vuelta a España. In 2011, in Copenhagen (Denmark), he became UCI Road World Champion, and boasts one-day-race successes such as Milano-Sanremo (2009) and the National Road Race Championships. In 2016 Mark won the gold medal with Bradley Wiggins in the Madison at the Track World Championships; he took the opening stage of the Tour de France in a sprint finish at Utah Beach and put on the maillot jaune for the first time; then he won the silver medal at the Rio Olympic Games in the Omnium. Cavendish won two stages and the overall victory at the 2015 Dubai Tour.
Quote: “When I won the overall classification in 2015, it was the first Dubai Tour without a time trial. I was with Quick Step at the time. I had a great lead out train and I got through the hard stage to Hatta Dam. The amount of sprints here makes it very attractive. I spend a lot of time in Dubai, so it’s nice to be back.”
Alexander Kristoff (NOR – UAE Team Emirates)
Bio: Kristoff, born 5 July 1987, is current UEC European Road Champion and his biggest victories are the 2014 Milan-Sanremo and the 2015 Tour of Flanders. His palmares includes two stage at the 2014 Tour de France and two national Road Race Championships (2007 and 2011). At the last year’s UCI World Road Championship in Bergen, the Norwegian finished second behind Peter Sagan.
Quote: “For sure, this race is important for my new team – it’s our home ground – but the Dubai Tour is no less important for the other sprinters sitting next to me. The level of sprinting here is very high. There’ll be a tough competition. I did some work with my new team-mates, but it’s difficult to train all together when some of us are racing in Australia and Argentina. I’m pretty fresh. I’ll try day by day to be a winner.”
Elia Viviani (ITA – Quick-Step Floors)
Bio: Viviani, born 7 February 1989, is one of the most accomplished sprinters in the peloton, having claimed 50 victories since turning pro in 2010. As well as being a talented road rider, Elia also has an admirable record on the track: several medals in the European Track Championships and, in 2016, the gold medal at the Rio Olympic Games in the Omnium. In 2015 and in 2016 he won the Dubai Tour second stage and wore the Blue Jersey as leader of the GC. Last year’s wins include the Bretagne Classic – Ouest-France, the Cyclassics Hamburg. Elia has already claimed a victory in 2018; stage three at the Santos Tour Down Under.
Quote: “I’ve had a really good winter with my new team and I’ve already got a stage win [at the Santos Tour Down Under in Australia]. I enjoy racing for Quick Step Floors. This team is very focus on sprinting. It makes a difference for me. Stage 1 has a really nice finish – I’ve won there two times – positioning before the final straight is crucial, depending on the crosswinds.”
John Degenkolb (GER – Trek-Segafredo)
Bio: Degenkolb, a puncheur from Gera, Germany (born on 7 January 1989), has won the Milano-Sanremo (2015), Paris-Roubaix (2015), Paris-Tours (2013), Gent-Wevelgem (2014) one-day races and a stage at the Giro d’Italia (2013), along with 10 stage victories at the Vuelta a España. “Dege” won the Hatta Stage of the 2015 edition of the Dubai Tour, wearing the Blue Jersey, and the third stage at last year’s Dubai Tour, finishing second overall on GC.
Quote: “I’ve enjoyed it every time I come here. Dubai is a great place, I even came here on holiday once. It’s nice to start the season here. The organization of the race is excellent with a good combination of sprints and I really like the finish to Hatta Dam. I have great memories of it, not from when I crossed the finish line but the emotion afterwards. You have to dig really deep to win that finale. Our team has had a superb start to the year in Argentina. The atmosphere was great also in Mallorca where we already won the first stage.”
Nacer Bouhanni (FRA – Cofidis, Solutions Credits)
Bio: Bouhanni, born 25 July 1990 in Épinal, France, has 59 victories since he turned pro in 2010, including three stages and the Point Classification Jersey at the 2014 Giro d’Italia, two at the Vuelta a España and three at Paris-Nice.
Quote: “This is the first time for Cofidis riding the Dubai Tour. Our team has a new management this year. A few things have changed but my preparation has remained pretty much the same. I’m happy to come here and compete with the world’s best sprinters.”