On Wednesday afternoon the 14 brightest lights in the Abu Dhabi Tour’s galaxy of stars met the international media in a pre-race press conference at the Yas Marina Circuit.
While Grand Tour winners Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana spoke of their hopes for Saturday’s mountain-top finish, world-leading sprinters Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel looked forward to their high-speed battles at the four-day race organised by Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC) in collaboration with RCS Sport and under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Vice Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council.
As of this year the Abu Dhabi Tour boasts UCI WorldTour status, making it officially the most prestigious cycling race in the Middle East.
Tanel Kangert (EST – Astana Pro Team): “I know my limits and I know that I won’t win the Abu Dhabi Tour this time. I’m not really prepared for this week as my races will come later. I will ride with team leader Aru and hope to get a good result with him”.
Fabio Aru (ITA – Astana Pro Team): “I’m very pleased to meet Vincenzo here. We hadn’t seen each other for a few months. This is the first time we’ve been rivals, but I’m not only focused on him. The level of contenders here is so high that we need to mark a number of riders. I’ve already raced here and I liked it. I want to try my best to have a good race: I will give 100%”.
Rui Costa (POR – UAE Abu Dhabi): “I already won in Argentina with this team and now we’re very proud to have the Emirates logo on our jersey. It’s our home race, so it’s very important to do well. We’re a strong team with good sprinters and we’ve also brought the best riders we have for the climbs. We’ll try to give our best”.
Vincenzo Nibali (ITA – Bahrain – Merida): “For us at Bahrain-Merida it’s a very important race, We’ll try to do very well. We have Niccolò Bonifazio for the sprint stages and I’m looking forward to the mountain-top finish. I’ve just done a training camp with the other guys so it’s good to come here and see how the team’s gelled and also how I measure up to other big riders”.
Alberto Contador (ESP – Trek – Segafredo): “The main reason why there are so many champions is that this is now a WorldTour race, very important for all the teams, plus this is ideal to prepare for the other big races of the season. My team here has two leaders in me and Bauke Mollema. I had a good winter and am ready to race here with all of them. I will focus on Stage 3”.
Nairo Quintana (COL – Movistar Team): “The third stage is ideal for me: we have a team here that should support me very well on the mountain. We need to see how I’ll perform and how the many great rivals in the race will perform. I feel very well at the moment”.