D-1: Info with one day to go
February 3 rd 2020 - 19:16 [GMT + 3]
Some 125 riders representing 18 teams from 4 continents have been introduced to the public in Riyadh on the eve of the first ever stage of the Saudi Tour. Among them, Mark Cavendish (Bahrain-McLaren) and Nacer Bouhanni (Arkea-Samsic) are ready to bring their experience of the desert in the sprints as they take on new challenges with their new teams in 2020. Niki Terpstra (Total Direct Énergie) highlighted the importance of already showing strong signs of form.
READY TO ROLL FROM RIYADH
The first edition of the Saudi Tour is ready to roll as excitement mounts in Riyadh on the eve of the first stage, starting Monday in the Kingdom’s capital. 126 riders representing 18 teams from all around the world have settled in Riyadh and familiarised themselves with their new surroundings as they headed out for their training rides. In the evening, they were introduced to the public with a team presentation held in the spectacular Ritz Carlton Hotel of Riyadh.
“It’s a very open race with tricky roads that could induce many surprises, as soon as stage 1”, race regulator Jean-Marc Marino said after designing the route. The first stage will lead the riders into the desert, travelling from the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee to Jaww. Stage 2 has been slightly amended, with a finish now set in Al Bujairi and counts a total distance of 187km.
CAVENDISH AND BOUHANNI DISCOVER A NEW DESERT WITH NEW TEAMS
Mark Cavendish has been a prominent figure in the rise of professional cycling in the Middle-East and he is looking for more success participating in his 20th race in the Arabian peninsula with his new team Bahrain-McLaren. “I was looking forward to starting the season here with these new colours”, the sprinting legend said on the stage of the team presentation. Nacer Bouhanni (Arkéa-Samsic) is also used to beginning his season in the region. “There are different sprint stages and the team will commit to these”, he said on Monday. “There are also two harder stages where we’ll play different cards but I’m focusing on the sprints. I’m here with the lead-out men who will ride with me for most of the season so I’m eager to see how we do and to build a strong relationship in race.”
CLASSIC EXPERTS ARE READY TO UP THE ANTE
Intense racing in the desert is the perfect way to kick-off the season for the elite riders aiming for success in the Spring classics. Among them, Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders winner Niki Terpstra (Total Direct Energie) admits he is “always nervous when the season starts. The winter break was long for everyone so the condition is a big question mark. Spring classics are pretty early in the season so it’s important to already be in a strong condition.” The Dutch star appeared upbeat in the pre-race press conference, recalling the first edition of the Dakar in Saudi Arabia in January. “When I saw the images, I was really excited to come here”, he said. Will he race the Dakar some day? “You never know!”
CYCLING FOR ALL AUDIENCES
The Saudi Tour is the perfect occasion to show the local population the benefits of cycling as a sport and a means of transport. The Kazakh rider Artyom Zakharov (Astana) joined representatives of the race as they visited Najd National School and Al-Rowad School and participated in activities dedicated to the children. In addition to the epic action from the pros, the fans will be able to enjoy side events such as a public ride and a Junior race in Al Bujairion Thursday, as well as a womens' ride on Saturday through the Princess Nourah University.