The 2022 UAE Tour will kickstart the new UCI World Tour season after dates for the race were announced by organisers on Tuesday.
Entering its fourth year, the UAE Tour - the only World Tour race in the Middle East - will begin on February 20 and will follow past editions in comprising seven stages over seven days as the peloton races through the Emirates.
For the first time since its launch in 2019, the UAE Tour will host the full roster of 19 UCI World Teams. Home team, UAE Team Emirates, will return to defend the title won by Tadej Pogacar. It proved a springboard victory for the Slovenian star, who went on to successfully defend his Tour de France title.
Past winners include Great Britain's Simon Yates, in 2020, and Pogacar's compatriot Primoz Roglic in 2019. The 2020 edition, which took place at the start of the pandemic, was shortened to five stages after the final two were cancelled in response to positive Covid-19 results among the staff.
"The UAE Tour has come a long way from the post Covid pandemic to plan for the fourth edition," Aref Hamad Al Awani, general secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said.
"After a challenging but successful 2021 UAE Tour amidst the coronavirus pandemic, we are now looking ahead to host the 2022 UCI World Tour opener.
"The 2022 edition coincides with Expo 2020 Dubai and we are really excited to be part of this global event. Obviously we are looking for a bigger event and play a bigger role to portray the UAE as a global venue".
Further details about the race, including the routes, jerseys, and team lineups will be announced in January.
"The UAE Tour has gone from strength to strength year on year and has remained the one and only World Tour race in the Middle East," Fabrizio d’Amico, CEO of RCS Sports and Events DMCC, said.
"As we look ahead to the fourth edition, we could not have got here without the tremendous and unwavering support received by the leadership of the country and government entities which were crucial in executing the race during the outbreak or the pandemic earlier this year.
"We are honoured to work hand in hand with Abu Dhabi Sports Council to put this event on and thanks to their vision the race has cemented itself as one all top riders look forward to participating in.
"This is also a hugely exciting time for the UAE as they host Expo 2020 and we look forward to once again showcasing the beauty and capabilities of the UAE as a global sports organsier."