Marta Bastianelli promised her UAE Team ADQ are aiming to put on a show for home fans in the inaugural UAE Tour Women starting in Dubai on Thursday.
The first and only UCI World Tour race in the Middle East, the four-stage event will open with a 109 kilometre ride from Port Rashid to Dubai Harbour.
Italian Bastianelli, 35, is one of the most experienced riders among the 13 UCI World and seven UCI Continental teams battling to become the first holders of the title.
“We are a fully professional unit and we have arrived well prepared, and want to do our best to challenge for the title,” the former world champion said at the pre-race conference at the Abu Dhabi Cycling Club on Hudayriat Island on Wednesday.
“It’s very important for us to be here and represent the host nation in this inaugural race for women. We have a strong team [of six riders] and we believe in ourselves. Of course, we will face strong challenges, but we are ready for it.”
The rest of the UAE Team ADQ include Silvia Persico, a revelation at the Tour de France Femmes, their lead-out Chiara Consonni and Eleonora Camilla Gasparrini, alongside Laura Tomasi and Anna Trevisi.
The 20 teams will tackle the three sprint and the penultimate mountain stage that finishes at the summit of Jebel Hafeet in Al Ain.
Marta Cavalli (FDJ-Suez) arrives at the event following some excellent results last year, including second place in the Giro d'Italia Donne and triumphs at the Amstel Gold Race and La Fleche Wallonne.
Cavalli’s team also includes Australian Grace Brown, runner-up at the 2022 Women's Tour, at the World Championships ITT and at Liege-Bastogne-Liege Femmes (both in 2022 and 2020). This year, she won the Santos Tour Down Under.
“As a team we have spent a lot of time together and let’s see how far we can go in this inaugural race,” Cavalli said.
Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) has amassed an impressive 35 victories since the start of her career, as well as bronze medals in the 2016 and 2020 Olympic road races.
“For us, it’s a very important race. We have a strong roster and we are very happy to be racing here,” Borghini said.
“Finally, we have got the opportunity to race in the Middle East, something that has been missing in the Tour Women.”