Mark Cavendish to ride in first Abu Dhabi to Al Ain Classic

Mark Cavendish celebrates at the end of a previous event in Dubai. (WAM)
Updated 10 November 2017
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Mark Cavendish to ride in first Abu Dhabi to Al Ain Classic

DUBAI: British cycling legend and former road world champion, Mark Cavendish, will compete in the first edition of the Abu Dhabi to Al Ain Classic – the first of its kind in the UAE, state news agency WAM have reported. There will be 200 riders competing in the 180km event, which begins in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017.
Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Cycling Club, Mugheer Khamis Al-Khaili said: “We are delighted that Abu Dhabi Cycling Club’s first event will be the Abu Dhabi – Al Ain Classic. Our riders are excited to compete alongside some of the best in the world and it’s a fantastic development for cycling in the UAE. The course will provide everyone with a unique challenge between both cities.”
Cavendish, who has won 30 Tour de France stages in his career, is the event ambassador and will be one of several international riders in the peloton, working its way from Abu Dhabi to the Garden City of Al Ain.
“I’m really looking forward to playing a part in the first Abu Dhabi to Al Ain Classic,” Cavendish said, adding: “The event is a fantastic new initiative within cycling and it’s a privilege to be involved.”
Aref Hamad Al-Awani, general secretary of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, described the event as a “significant new race.”
“Not only will it bring internationally recognized athletes to compete in Abu Dhabi, but also provide a development platform for our own riders and particularly Abu Dhabi Cycling Club. We’re delighted that the event will be hosted by Mark Cavendish, who is a great ambassador for both his sport and our emirate.”
While the Classic is an invitation-only event – with only 200 places, there is also the Daman ActiveLife Family Cycling Festival which is open to the public.
The festival aims to inspire people of all ages and fitness levels to lead active and healthy lifestyles.


UAE boss Alberto Zaccheroni admits performances have been poor ahead of Socceroos clash

Updated 22 January 2019
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UAE boss Alberto Zaccheroni admits performances have been poor ahead of Socceroos clash

  • UAE boss still under spotlight despite side reaching lasts-eight, where they will face Australia.
  • Hosts struggled to beat Kyrgyzstan in second-round after underwhelming group stage.

LONDON: Having guided your team to the last eight of the Asian Cup, it must seem strange to find yourself on the defensive. But that is the situation Alberto Zaccheroni, right, faced after leading the UAE to a second-round win over Kyrgyzstan.
The hosts were strongly fancied to see off the Central Asians in their knockout clash in Abu Dhabi, but were taken to extra time and the likely drama of penalties when Ahmed Khalil grabbed the winner in the 103rd minute.
The performance added to the impression that the Whites have made the quarterfinals through luck rather than ability. The team has looked far from impressive during the group stage and anything but possible winners overall.
They now face reigning champions Australia — and even the UAE boss admitted they will have their work cut out unless they improve. “I admit that against (Kyrgyzstan) we seemed to struggle with long ball and crosses, and we also had one or two chances to score and secure the game, but we didn’t convert those opportunities,” the Italian former coach of AC Milan and Juventus said.
“We will try to correct all the things that we believe were less positive between now and the quarterfinals. We now have three days to assess our squad and their injuries before we face a strong Australia team.”
Usually when a team reaches the later stages of a big tournament, players and coaches ignore the performance and pretend all is grand — generally with an emphatic declaration that they will win the title.
Zaccheroni’s post-match reaction was anything but bombastic, however. That is not only a pleasant change but also an appreciation that the UAE have been anything but impressive in their march — in fact, more a slow plod — to the last eight.
This is Kyrgyzstan’s first Asian Cup, and they are far from world-beaters. Playing at home with hopes of lighting the trophy on Feb. 1, the UAE should have easily beaten the Central Asian outfit.
Goals from Mirlan Murzaev and a dramatic late equalizer from substitute Tursunali Rustamov canceled out strikes by Khamis Esmaeel and Ali Mabkhouts. On top of that they hit the bar and the post. It took a controversial Khalil spot-kick to win the match, one that left the Central Asians with a bitter taste in the mouth.
“I don’t want to talk about the referee,” Kyrgyzstan coach Aleksandr Krestinin said.
“We leave the tournament with a lot of regrets — we deserved more. It’s our first Asian Cup, but I’m sure it won’t be our last and we will come back stronger.”
There is a sense the UAE cannot play much worse than they have so far, and the hope will be that they can find a good performance in the quarterfinal against the Socceroos. If they are to shock the reigning champions, they will need Khalil to find his scoring boots again.
“Ahmed Khalil is a very good striker, he is one of the best in Asia,” Zaccheroni said of the 2015 AFC Player of the Year.
“When I took over the UAE team (at the end of 2017), he was injured and had not trained for a long time. He has also been injured many times recently and did not play often for his club.
“Nevertheless, he is a very good player, and I have to say that I rely on him a lot. He does so much for the team.”