The 1st edition of the Saudi Tour, which will take place between 4th and 8th February, offers a programme combining desert scenery and skyscrapers, with five stages around the capital Riyadh.
The alternation between flat profiles and more undulating stages promises for battles between sprinters, interspersed with exploits by punchers or even breakaway specialists.
Among the specialists of the final straight, the Saudi Tour will be hosting the return to business of Mark Cavendish in his new colours of the Bahrein-McLaren team, whilst Nacer Bouhanni will be trying on his Arkea-Samsic jersey for the first time. As regards attacks from far out, a watchful eye will have to be kept on Niki Terpstra, Enrico Gasparotto, Rui Costa or also Angel Madrazo, all of whom will be eager to try their luck.
A new territory is ready to welcome the elite of cycling with the first edition of the Saudi Tour to be held from Tuesday, February 4th until Saturday, February 8th. Over five stages set between the skyscrapers of the capital Riyadh and the Arabian desert, the route aims to highlight the cultural history and the modernity of the Kingdom, outlined by its sporting facilities.
The 1st stage will start in front of the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee headquarters, where the country’s sports federations are hosted. The riders will get a first taste of the desert while riding on leg-sapping roads leading to an uphill finish in Jaww.
The 2nd stage, the longest, will bring more spectacular views with a start next to Sadus Castle, a first loop on open roads that could lead to echelons and a finish on the modern Riyadh Turky Road.
The 3rd stage, from the King Saud University to Al Bujairi, may be the most challenging with a demanding circuit and a total of nine climbs. The riders will be on the edge again as they ride into the desert the next day and tackle a 5-km climb with a gradient around 5% in Qiddiya, where the 2020 Dakar also finishes. Eventually, the 5th stage will start in front of the Princess Nourah University and finish at the Masmak fort after travelling through Riyadh, in the shadow of the skyscrapers.
Each stage will feature several intermediate sprints, on the flat or atop climbs, and the participants will score points in a single classification rewarding the most aggressive rider of the Saudi Tour. These sprints may also influence the race for the overall victory with time bonuses of 3, 2 and 1 seconds up for grabs in the last intermediate sprint of the day, set inside the last 25 kilometres.
18 TEAMS: THE MAIN PARTICIPANTS
Bahrain-McLaren: Cavendish (GB), Bauhaus (Ger)
Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles: Vanendert, Planckaert (Bel)
Circus-Wanty Gobert: Offredo (Fra)
Riwal Readynez Cycling Team: Havik (NL)
Arkea-Samsic: Bouhanni (Fra), McLay (GB)
B&B Hotels-Vital Concept: Debusschere (Bel)
Nippo Delko One Provence: Navardauskas (Lit)
Total Direct Energie: Terpstra (NL), Bonifazio (Ita), Gaudin (Fra)
Bike Aid: Carstensen (Ger)
Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling: Lampier (GB)
Astana Pro Team: De Vreese (Bel)
Terengganu Inc. TSG Cycling Team: Reguigui (Alg)
Gazprom-RusVelo: Chernetskii (Rus)
NTT Pro Cycling: Gasparotto (Swi), Kreuziger (Cz), R.Janse van Rensburg (SAf)
Burgos-BH: Madrazo (Spa)
Caja Rural-Seguros RGA: Malucelli (Ita)
United Arab Emirates
UAE-Team Emirates: Costa (Por), Conti (Ita)
Rally Cycling: De Vos (Can)