Alberto Contador will lead the Tinkoff team at its final race of the season, and the final race for the team at the four-day Abu Dhabi Tour.
Comprising of four road stages – three flat stages and one mountain-top finish – the race offers different opportunities for late season results, and Tinkoff heads into the event with a roster able to compete across both types of parcours.
“I will approach this race in a different way. Initially, it didn’t form part of my racing schedule and it came as a last-minute addition,” explained Contador ahead of the race.
“We will give our best and I think Jesper Hansen can have a good race. I will personally take one day at a time. There might be days where the breeze will be an important factor but we will stay calm. I will try to enjoy it since it’s the first time I race here.”
“There is no doubt the heat will play a big role in our performance – some riders adapt better while other might struggle. However, the heat is the same for everybody and staying hydrated will be key although I don’t think we are facing extreme temperatures.”
Alongside Contador will be Jesper Hansen, able to lead the GC fight if the Spaniard finds himself not fully recovered from late season illness.
In support for the flats and mountain stage, these two have Jesús Hernández. For the sprint opportunities, the team will look towards Erik Baška, heading to Abu Dhabi from the U23 World Road Race Championships, as well as Michael Kolar, who also competed in Doha, helping Peter Sagan to victory in the elite race. The team is then completed by Juraj Sagan, able to support the two sprinters or even take his chances to get up the road where appropriate.
Looking at the roster for the race, Directeur Sportif Tristan Hoffman said: “We will have to see a bit how Alberto has recovered because he is coming back from sickness recently, but he will be our leader here. If he is not feeling good, then Jesper will also be a good option for the GC.”
“Erik, Michael and Juraj are all coming here from the Worlds and have been training well for that so hopefully they will have some good form. We’ve got two sprinters in Erik and Michael, so we will be fluid out on the road and see who’s feeling better each day.”
“There’s not usually too much wind here in Abu Dhabi and I don’t expect big splits like we see in Qatar, so I think that we’ll have three big sprint days and then the GC will be decided on stage 3’s uphill finish.”
“The final day is quite special, based on the Formula 1 circuit, and it’s really impressive to see the whole set up there and to race around it. It’s a nice way to finish off the season.”