Below, Ali Khaled counts his five riders to watch ahead of this week’s start to the 2016 Dubai Tour cycling race:
Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data)
Last year’s winner with Etixx–Quick-Step, Mark Cavendish returns to Dubai with Team Dimension Data this time. Initially a track cyclist, the 30-year-old rider has transformed into one of the world’s top riders since 2006 when he took up road races. He became the first British cyclist to claim the the Tour de France points classification in 2011, and last year won two of the stages in Dubai to record his third overall career win.
Bradley Wiggins (Wiggins)
One of the world’s most recognisable cyclists, Sir Bradley Wiggins will be making his first appearance in Dubai. Among his many achievements as a track cyclist was winning gold at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and two gold medals four years later at the Beijing games. In 2012 he became the first British rider to win the Tour de France and claimed gold in the time trials at the London Olympics.
Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing)
Gilbert won the World Road Championships in 2012, the year he joined his current team. Arguably the Belgian’s best performances came a year earlier with Silence-Lotto when he finished as the overall winner of the UCI World Tour and claimed the three Ardennes Classics.
Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo)
The 34-year-old from Switzerland is considered one of the world’s best time-trialists, a rider who can maintain high speeds over a long period. Cancellara has won the opening stage of the Tour de France five times, the most by any cyclist not to win the overall race. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics he won gold in the the time trials and silver in the road race.
Marcel Kittel (Etixx–Quick-Step)
Another rider who started as a time-trialist, winning a bronze medal at the World U23 Championships in 2010, Kittel has only been racing as a professional since 2011. The 27-year-old German has won eight Tour de France stages, and left his former team Skil-Shimano for Etixx–Quick-Step at the start of the 2016 season.