Contador set to ride Tour of Oman, wins exhibition race in Dubai
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Friday, January 4, 2013

Contador set to ride Tour of Oman, wins exhibition race in Dubai

by Shane Stokes at 7:18 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of Oman
First shots of new Team Saxo Tinkoff kit

Alberto ContadorFormer Tour de France champion Alberto Contador has planned a busy start to the season, officially getting his racing underway on January 21st when he lines out in the Tour de San Luis in Argentina. The Team Saxo Tinkoff rider will then add a new event to his schedule, going from the seven day South American race to the Tour of Oman.

The ASO-organised event runs from February 11th to 16th and, in contrast to the earlier Tour of Qatar, the race is hillier. The two most recent editions have featured the tough climb of Green Mountain, paving the way for the overall victories of uphill specialists Robert Gesink and Peter Velits.

The race is far more suited to Contador’s style than the Qatar event, which is held on flat, windy roads and is often won by a sprinter.

Spanish website Biciclismo has reported that Contador has agreed to take part. He returned to competition last August after the end of his suspension, and won the Vuelta a España.

Putting aside the 2010 Tour and 2011 Giro d’Italia titles he lost after the Court of Arbitration ruled against him at the start of last season, the Spaniard has won five Grand Tours to date. He is hoping to add a sixth one in July, with the Tour de France being his prime season goal.

While it is not an official race, Contador was already in action on Friday. He was first in a three-up one kilometre race against Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Giro d’Italia champion Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin – Sharp), winning the sprint to the line.

World time trial champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma Quick Step) was involved in a different event, going up against a racehorse over the same distance but losing out to his four-legged rival.

Both contests were held in conjunction with the inauguration of the new Dubai Cycling Course, a 68 kilometre circuit.

The occasion was also used to reveal plans to run a new Tour of Dubai, starting next season. “Dubai always does things in the best manner possible and I assure you that the Dubai Tour will be a force,” Rashid Al Kamali, head of marketing and communication of the Dubai Sports Council said, according to Emirates 24/7. “It will be something greater than what's been seen anywhere else in the world.

“For the first time we will host a world-class cycling championship under the calendar of the UCI (International Cycling Union) with the Dubai Tour in 2014. This event will attract the elite cyclists of the world and will also allow us to showcase the beauty of Dubai.”

He said that another goal was to help ensure that future riders like Contador, Hesjedal or Nibali would come from the country.

“We've got to create the environment for that to happen, so the races are important, academies and creating the want from children to get into cycling.”

As expected in light of their attendance at the function, both Contador and Nibali seemed positive about the planned event. “I think it'll be a beautiful race. They could include a team time trial, an individual time trial and of course for the sprinters there are lots of roads,” said the former. “I don't know about the mountain, maybe next year they will have built a one-kilometre mountain.”

The date of the race has not been confirmed, but the organisers have said that it won’t take place this season and won’t be held in the summer.

Contador said that if it took place early in the year, that it could act as good training for riders. However the Dubai hosts are likely to want riders to be serious about winning the race. Given the location, it’s likely that the prize money could be considerable.

“Dubai’s decision to embrace cycling is exciting news for cyclists around the world,” added Nibali. “I am sure all the top riders will be here in 2014 for the event.”

More details about the race are expected to be released over time. Speculation that Giro d’Italia organisers RCS Sport could be involved in running the event was fuelled when it released several images of Friday’s launch on the Giro’s Twitter account.

Meanwhile the first team photos of Contador and the rest of Saxo Tinkoff have been released by the squad. The images include shots of his new team-mates Michael Rogers, Nicolas Roche, Roman Kreuziger, Daniele Bennati and more.

These are available in the gallery below; click the first image to advance.




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