Three races, one guide

30 Jan 2017

Three races, one guide

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With Team Sky in action in three races across three different time zones this week, we take a closer look at the events and a few key things to what to watch out for.

First thing's first - the races:
 
31 January-4 February - Dubai Tour (Dubai)
1-5 February - Herald Sun Tour (Australia)
1-5 February - Volta al Comunitat Valenciana (Spain)

Check out the Team Sky lineups for all three events HERE.
 
Time zones
 
Herald Sun Tour begins with an evening prologue in Melbourne. That means the first yellow jersey recipient will be decided at a more sociable hour for European fans, with the stage concluding at 8.30am UK time. From then on the alarm clock will need to be set, with the remaining road stages rolling out just before midnight, and finishing around 4.30am for British viewers. If the action is anything like last year though it will be more than worth the early start.
 
Dubai is four hours ahead of the UK, meaning that with the race kicking off at roughly 11am each day, you're looking at 7am for the Brits, and 8am for much of Europe. A slightly later start on Sunday's final stage means an extra 90 minutes in bed. You can watch the final phase of each stage live on Eurosport (or Eurosport Player).
 
Valencia runs to a more traditional European schedule. The opening TTT will be must-see racing and sees the last team go down the ramp at 15.06pm UK time. This and the remaining road stages will all be shown live on Eurosport, largely finishing between 14.30pm and 15.30pm. Just watch out for the early finish on Sunday!
 

Big hitters ready to do battle in Dubai sprints (TDWSport)

Big hitters ready to do battle in Dubai sprints (TDWSport)

Key stages
 
Dubai - It may be the sprint finishes that characterise this race, but it's the queen stage and summit finish combo of the Hatta Dam that has had the biggest effect on the GC. The tough ramp is intriguing as a test for the sprinters, who will be conscious to build up as many bonus seconds as possible in a bid to limit the damage to their GC hopes. Anyone who can hang tough on the dam has a good chance of being in the GC fight.

Herald Sun Tour - Hot on the heels of the opening prologue is a big GC day and a summit finish up Falls Creek. The 29-kilometre drag comes after the riders have already toiled over Tawonga Gap. Despite such an early climbing test the race will be far from decided, with a heavy final day which includes a tough climb around Kinglake.
 
Valencia - The first team time trial of the year will make for compelling viewing as the event kicks off with a 37.9-kilometre test straight from the off. The foundations for the GC will be laid on an undulating course, including the third-category San Miguel de Salinas climb. With new rider and team combinations, it will be interesting to see which squads are the most well drilled in Spain.
Wout Poels was feeling the love in Valencia last season

Wout Poels was feeling the love in Valencia last season

Titles to defend
 
Last season this trio of races really kick-started Team Sky's campaign with six wins across the three events. Significantly two of those were general classification victories, with Chris Froome taking the overall title in Australia with an emphatic final stage performance. Meanwhile Wout Poels dominated in Valencia, taking two stage wins along the way. While repeating that would be a dream scenario, both riders are back to defend their titles and are highly motivated.
Froome lifted the Sun Tour trophy in 2016

Froome lifted the Sun Tour trophy in 2016

Dubai sprint battle
 
Elia Viviani has gone home from Dubai with a stage win in each of the last two years. The Italian claimed top honours on stage two on both occasions, with 2015 marking his first win in Team Sky colours. After claiming a gold medal on the track last summer, Viviani again began his season in Italian colours at the Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina - taking a trio of second places. A win is hopefully just around the corner.
 
Team effort
 
With 21 out of our 28 riders in racing action, in addition to a Tenerife training camp, there's a lot going on this week. Three races in three countries means our staff are fully mobilised too, with seven Sport Director/coaches, eight mechanics, 10 carers and three doctors all on the road. 
Viviani: No stranger to victory in Dubai

Viviani: No stranger to victory in Dubai

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