UAE Tour Women 2024 Race Preview

Elisa-Longo-Borghini-Gaia-Realini-Uae-Tour-Women-2023-Stage-3

UAE Tour Women History

After its first hosting in 2023, the UAE Tour Women returns in 2024 with a fairly similar parcours. 3 stages look like nailed-on sprints and the GC will be decided on the slopes of Jebel Hafeet. We’re looking at something like 9km at 7% average on the climb, so there’s little hope for sprinters with bonus seconds to contest the GC as the gaps will become minutes rather than seconds here. That was the case last season where the Trek pair of Elisa Longo Borghini and Gaia Realini were able to distance their rivals and finish over a minute ahead of 3rd place rider Silvia Persico.

The other thing to note is that whilst the stages appear flat apart from Jebel Hafeet, the desert conditions are ideal for crosswinds and echelons. Those split the race up last year where Trek put in a lot of effort to keep the diminutive climber Realini out of trouble. Riders can lose the GC in those situations if they’re not careful with the main peloton pushing on, with one group last year losing almost 17 minutes in the end.

Previous Winners

2023
Elisa Longo Borghini
2022
Not held
2021
Not held

UAE Tour Women 2024 Profile

Stage 1

2024_UAE_Tour_Women_Stage_1_Profile

Stage 2

Stage 3

Stage 4

TV Coverage

Thursday 8th February – Sunday 11th February 2024

Live on Eurosport/Discovery+ across most of Europe, FloSports in USA and Canada

Stage 1: 10:50-12:50
Stage 2: 10:30-13:00
Stage 3: 10:30-13:00
Stage 4: 10:30-13:00

All times in GMT

Twitter: #UAETourWomen

Startlist: FirstCycling

UAE Tour Women 2024 Contenders

Lidl-Trek feels like they’re going to be the GC favourites again this year with last year’s winner Elisa Longo Borghini returning with Gaia Realini also in tow. The Italian duo look like the most powerful combination on the Jabel Hafeet climb with nearly all of their rivals looking like they’ll be isolated. There’d be quite a nice narrative if Longo Borghini returned last year’s favour and allowed Gaia Realini to win here but that favour was kinda repaid already, by the team at least, back at the Trofeo Oro in Euro last year. The team aren’t bringing Elisa Balsamo, so their sprint hopes will be in the hands of new signing Clara Copponi. It’s the French rider’s first race for her new team and she might find herself battling for the podium spots behind Kool and Wiebes.

It’s going to be the first chance to see Ricarda Bauernfeind in 2024 in the UAE. The German finished off 2023 with a series of top-10 GC finishes in WWT races with her consistency helping her climb up the rankings rather than any single great stage performance since her win at the Tour de France Femmes. She should be able to tackle Jabel Hafeet well enough to be in the top-10 but I’m thinking the lower reaches of that this early on in the year.

SD Worx start their 2024 season with the tough job of replicating their success from 2023. The 3 sprint stages are definitely going to be for Lorena Wiebes and the lead-out train is here to support fast finishes. She will want to get off to a stronger start to the year than last year’s edition. We’re also going to be getting the GC climbing version of Lotte Kopecky by the looks of it. Ever since her 2nd place at the 2023 Tour de France Femmes, it’s been mooted that she might even have won that race if she didn’t share a team with Demi Vollering. We’ll get the first real chance to put that to the test on Jabel Hafeet.

Mavi Garcia
Mavi Garcia

Liv-AlUla-Jayco’s Mavi Garcia will be looking to impress in her first race for the team. She took part in two of the Mallorca races but they were for a Spanish national team which saw her isolated at key moments in those races. She still finished 3rd at Trofeo Palma Femina and 6th at Trofeo Binissalem-Andratx though and should be another solid bet for the top-10 in GC. For the sprints, the team has options of Letizia Paternoster or Georgia Baker. Both are solid but often not quite top-tier in a WWT sprint. Georgia Baker should be more likely to get the nod out of the two after finishing 2nd on the opening stage of the Tour Down Under already in 2024.

A big favourite for stages will be Charlotte Kool again. The Dutch rider put the cat amongst the pigeons by beating Lorena Wiebes twice in last year’s race. We will get an early head-to-head to see which of them is on top in 2024. As Wiebes looks towards Paris, it might see Kool come through more as the purer sprinter. With Charlotte Kool out with illness, Rachele Barbieri will get a chance to sprint instead and make the most of the dsm fimenich-PostNL lead-out. She had a so-so last year but has transitioned from a main sprinter on Liv Racing to a great lead-out instead in that time. The team might try something in the wind with Pfeiffer Georgi, who won that super windy Brugge-De Panne last year and stole a march on Lorena Wiebes heading into the sprint. Elise Uijen is also a quietly decent option for the Jabel Hafeet stage as well.

The home race of UAE Team ADQ sees them bring a strong line-up that will contest all the stages. There are 3 chances for Chiara Consonni to try and really join the top tier of sprinters with Kool and Wiebes. She was 3rd at Trofeo Felanitx-Colonia de Sant Jordi despite being the big favourite on paper beforehand. The team’s lead-out will have to do better at the UAE Tour Women than they did that day. The GC threat will come from Silvia Persico who was 3rd here last season. She was also solid in Mallorca finishing 5th and 10th, which might’ve been more if not for a crash on one of the descents whilst out front. Alena Ivanchenko is also here and is a solid threat on long climbs with a consistent gradient. She will either find herself working for Persico or if she’s strongest on the day, will turn into a GC threat.

Emma Norsgaard
Emma Norsgaard

Despite not wanting to be thought of as a sprinter, that’s surely going to be the task of Emma Norsgaard at this year’s UAE Tour Women. She was 4th on the final day here last year and with limited opportunities to break clear unless she plays an echelon card, that’s the route to her best result. Claire Steels should get the nod for the GC here. She accidentally set a new record on the climb last year having changed bikes in the lead-up to the climb and the GPS data showed the car’s acceleration on the lower slopes! It was unfortunate timing as she was on par for a top-5 if the mechanical hadn’t happened. She’s been consistent in her home races in Mallorca, plus Almeria, finishing in the teens across all 3 races whilst working for Olivia baril.

Roxane Fournier will get a chance in the sprints for St Michel-Mavic-Auber93 at the UAE Tour Women. The French rider looks to be picking up where she left off last year when she had to stop to have iliac artery surgery. She took 7th on the opening stage of the Tour Down Under and top-10s in the non-UCI criteriums in Australia too. She’ll get 3 chances to get more results here. Teammate Marion Bunel will be the main GC hope though. She had a solid time in Australia, with 12th on Willunga Hill and 13th at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. Those hills weren’t really steep enough or long enough for her to truly shine, with Jabel Hafeet a chance for her to finish in the top-10.

Tamara Dronova has had a quieter start to the 2024 season so far with no top-20 results in 4 race days in Spain. We know she can mix it in the sprints and also do a job on the climbs as well. Not a pure sprinter or climber it’s tough to see a really strong result here for the Russian but the lower top-10 is certainly in the mix if she can be consistent across all 4 stages. Last year she crashed on Stage 1 and didn’t start the 2nd stage, it should be easy to improve on that in 2024.

Human Powered Health is going all in for the sprint at the UAE Tour Women. All the riders will feed into the lead-out and should be working for Daria Pikulik here. After winning Women’s WorldTour sprints in Australia and China last year, the Polish rider will want to try and get off the mark with a win in the UAE. It’s tough to see her beating Lorena Wiebes but she will be in the tier below with the likes of Consonni, Copponi and others.

UAE Tour Women 2024 Outsiders

Valentine Fortin
Valentine Fortin

Cofidis’ Valentine Fortin had a super strong 2023 season, picking up wins at GP d’Isbergues, A Travers les Hauts de France and 2 stages of the Bretagne Ladies Tour. It was clear that she started to blossom into a rider capable of finishing off one-day races just below the WWT level. She didn’t quite break through at the biggest races with a 14th at Gent Wevelgem her best result in the Women’s WorldTour last year. It’ll be tough against the purer sprinters here but it’s worth keeping an eye on her.

Simone Boilard has started the year well for her new team Uno-X with a 5th and an 8th in the races as part of the Challenge Mallorca. The Canadian will try and contest Jabel Hafeet but might find the climb a little bit too long to truly excel on GC. She did well last year, losing a bit of time on the climb but staying out of trouble in the other windy stages to finish 16th in GC. Her teammate Anniina Ahtosalo might also do well in the sprints. She finished the 2023 season with 3 top-10s in Women’s WorldTour sprints in China and a number of good results in non-WWT one-day races across the year. This time last year she launched very early and held on for a while but ultimately the likes of Wiebes and Kool powered past.

Ane Santesteban didn’t have a perfect start to the season in Mallorca, suffering a crash in one of the races and a blow to the helmet. She shook that off to finish 2nd at the Women Cycling Pro Costa de Almeria the following week though and will be looking to get a strong GC position at the UAE Tour Women. There’s a strong chance of a top-10 overall finish for her. With no Ane Santesteban, the chances of Laboral Kutxa are a little more up in the air. There’s no obvious big name but the likes of Debora Silvestri, Laura Tomasi and Cristina Tonetti are all decent outside bets for a strong result. Silvestri and Tomasi will divvy up the sprints depending on who survives the wind. Silvestri is a good one-day race sprinter, like Fortin above, and has a WWT top-10 in a sprint from the caught break at Burgos last season. Laura Tomasi spent a lot of time working for others when she was at UAE Team ADQ but has already shown this season that she can get results with 8th at Trofeo Felanitx-Colonia de Sant Jordi. I can see her sneaking into the top-10 on at least one of the 3 expected sprints here. Cristina Tonetti is another who will be in the hunt for a result and was 16th in that same race Tomasi finished 8th at. She’s another one-day specialist who can do well in a tough finish too.

Ceratizit will have a few sprinter options here but it’s hard to really decide on the obvious leader. Arianna Fidanza was 5th at Vuelta CV Feminas and 7th at Women Cycling Pro Costa De Almería already this season. Kathrin Schweinberger has also finished 4th at Trofeo Felanitx-Colònia de Sant Jordi just to confuse matters. Whilst Martina Fidanza hasn’t raced yet in 2024, she finished off 2023 with some strong sprints in China. There she finished 2nd, 3rd and 5th at Chongming Island as she came close to a maiden WWT victory.

Top 3 Prediction

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