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.


Solid start in Asian Games for ‘work in progress’ Saudi Arabia

Updated 49 min 11 sec ago
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Solid start in Asian Games for ‘work in progress’ Saudi Arabia

  • Saudi Arabian coach Saad Al-Shehri promised his U23 side will improve after goalless draw
  • Young Falcons are back in action on Friday, against Myanmar

JAKARTA: Saudi Arabian coach Saad Al-Shehri promised his U23 side will find their scoring boots after twice striking the woodwork on Wednesday night during a scoreless draw with Iran in the opening match of their Asian Games campaign in Indonesia.
At the Wibawa Mukti Stadium, the Young Falcons demonstrated impressive technique, particularly the midfield pairing of Al-Shabab’s Nasser Al-Omran and Al-Ahli’s Yousef Al-Harbi, but ultimately failed to take their chances against an Iran side happy to defend deep and play on the counter-attack.
“We played well, but not very well,” said coach Al-Shehri. “With the players we have, a better result was possible. The first match of any tournament is difficult and we played against a team who have a strong defense and implement fast transitions. We made three or four chances to score, so cannot be too disappointed. This is just the start though and we have at least two more matches. Now we must improve — and we will.”
As early as the sixth minute, Al-Qadisiyah striker Haroune Camara showed glimpses of why national team coach Juan Antonio Pizzi had been tempted to take him to the World Cup this summer.
The strapping 20-year-old outmuscled two Iranian defenders before rounding the goalkeeper, but his shot at goal was bundled on to the post by a back-tracking defender. A minute later, Al-Ahli playmaker Ayman Al-Khulaif could have opened the scoring, but saw his tame shot cleared off the line.
“We tried our best, but we did not have luck to win,” said Abdulrahman Ghareeb, the diminutive Al-Ahli midfielder. “I promise in the next two games we will be better and get the results required to progress. We played well and remain confident.”
For all Saudi’s dominance, it was Iran who could have gone in with a goal advantage at the break when a defensive mix-up allowed Mohammedreza Azadi Andizeh to toe-poke past Mohammed Ayami in the Saudi goal. This time it was left to Abdullah Tarmin to clear off the line at the other end. And while Alyami was called into action again early in the second period, with the temperature recorded at 34 degrees Celsius, the intensity unsurprisingly waned as the game went on.
“Always, when the weather is hot like this, it makes problems and we saw that in the second half,” said Al-Shehri.
“We talked to the players at half-time about how to maintain the physical level until the end because if you play against a team like Iran that plays counter attack, you need to be wary of leaving big spaces in behind.”
Al-Shehri’s words seemed to work. In added time, and with a flurry of late substitutes sucking all rhythm out of the contest, a final energetic Saudi attack resulted in Nawaf Al-Habashi latching on to a smart cut-back from the byline and firing toward goal. Once again, however, there was a roadblock in the way as the ball cannoned back off the far post.
“We need to improve the team’s personality and build a good squad for the next tournament, the U23 Asian Cup,” said Al-Shehri. “That is what we are trying to do here. Win games, but also build a team that can qualify for Tokyo 2020.”
There is no time to waste in their quest — the Young Falcons are back in action on Friday, against Myanmar.