Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka will next take to the start of the UCI 2.HC Dubai Tour. The 4-day race begins on Wednesday the 3rd February and comes to an end with the final stage on Saturday.
As the defending champion, Mark Cavendish will start the Dubai Tour alongside a strong mix of riders from our African Team. Mark Renshaw, Bernhard Eisel, Matt Brammeier, Nic Dougall, Daniel Teklehaimanot, Natnael Berhane and Songezo Jim will be the riders who join Cav for the Dubai Tour.
Once again we can expect the sprinters to have a number of opportunities in the week with 3 of the 4 stages almost certain to end in a mass sprint. Stage 3, with a longer uphill drag to the line could see a few time gaps form but there is every chance that the sprinters could hang tough as the climb is not all that severe. Parcours aside, the weather could also be a factor with high temperatures and wind always a cause for concern when racing in the middle east.
With Mark concentrating on a track based program for the better part of the off season, the overall GC win would be a tough feat to defend for the Manxman, but he will always be a threat in the mass sprints. Natnael Berhane and Mark Renshaw also showed they are both going well over the past few weeks and so it will be good for our African Team to head into Dubai with a few cards up our sleeve.
Bernhard Eisel – Rider
Dubai Tour is one of the desert races to enjoy, it’s not always just crosswind and full gas crazy racing all day long. There is also some nice scenery and we get to enjoy the nice places of Dubai. Also, staying at the Marina makes it super special and a race to look forward to. Obviously, defending the win is the main objective for us. The pressure is on us, especially by having Renshaw and Cav there, everybody will be looking at us. Just because Cav won last year it doesn’t mean it will be so easy this year, he has a good chance and I believe they took out a few climbs that came before the uphill stage finish so it is very much a race for the sprinters, even there. I think it will be a sprinter who wins the race. At the end of the day, it’s still the beginning of the season and it will take some time before we are working perfectly together again. It’s not going to be the first race that we get it right. We know what to do, but there is a lot of optimization that has to come over time. We are all good bike riders and we know how things worked in the last years but at HTC things just worked and we didn’t even have to think, so let’s see how it goes.