The first edition of Dubai Tour, the only professional cycling event to take place in the emirate, just kicked off on Wednesday with an individual time trial, which determined the opening ranking. Taylor Phinney won the opening Downtown Stage, which coursed its way from the World Trade Center to the Downtown Burj Khalifa and back. During the rest of the stages, the riders will race around some of the most spectacular buildings and iconic landmarks of Dubai.
Beating the world champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) won Wednesday’s time trial, becoming the first ever recipient of the Dubai Tour’s blue jersey. His team-mate, Britain’s Stephen Cummings finished second, followed by Garmin-Sharp’s Lasse Norman Hansen from Norway. The inaugural Dubai Tour is continuing on Thursday with the second stage, called The Sport Stage, a 121-km sprint, which starts at 11.20 am at the Dubai World Trade Centre. The route will pass through Meydan Racecource, Jumeirah Lake Towers, and Dubai Marina before a remarkable finish at the Atlantis, The Palm, an impressive man-made palm-shaped island. Favourites for the sprint are certainly Cavendish, Marcel Kittel, and the 2010 World Road Champion Thor Hushovd.
The third phase of the Tour of Dubai will be the longest route of the race, testing riders to their limits. Called the Nature Stage, it begins at 10.30 am on Friday at the Dubai World Trade Centre and heads to the mountains to Hatta through the Festival City, Mirdif, Al Aweer, the Madam and Malaiha areas of Sharjah, and to some parts of Ras Al Khaimah, as well. The 162-km stage will be mostly dominated by mountain experts Vincenzo Nibali the Shark, and climb cyclist Joaquim Rodriguez.
Dubai Tour is finishing on Saturday with a 124-km Old Dubai Stage, which will be another sprint race, starting at 11.30 am. This last stage will cover both the modern part of the city and the old, traditional Dubai, showcasing the traditional architecture and the charming Islamic culture. Beginning at the World Trade Centre, the route goes to the Sheikh Zayed Road and Umm Suqqeim passing Union House, as well as certain parts of Deira and Bur Dubai. The finish line is set at the Burj Khalifa.
Cyclists are racing in the four stages to finally win the Dubai Tour “Circle of Stars” trophy – a circular shaped (or simply a wheel) multi-faceted crystal sand/blue object. It has been designed by Italian brand Pininfarina and has a unique, beautiful design, representing the energy of the race and at the same time serves as a tribute to cyclists throughout the history, who used to carry their inner-tubes across their shoulders. If you won’t be able to watch the tour from the streets of Dubai, you can always see it on Dubai Sports Channel and Eurosport.