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.


Morocco proud of its Atlas Lions despite Portugal defeat, World Cup exit

Updated 20 min 49 sec ago
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Morocco proud of its Atlas Lions despite Portugal defeat, World Cup exit

  • While Morocco were on top for long periods, the Atlas Lions could not get the goal they deserved and needed
  • Ronaldo, named man of the match by FIFA after his fourth goal of the World Cup so far, recognized that it was a tough game

MOSCOW: Morocco became the first team to exit the 2018 World Cup on Wednesday after a 1-0 loss to Portugal in Moscow left coach Herve Renard to reflect on what could have been had he been able to call up Cristiano Ronaldo.
Just five days after his hat-trick against Spain in a 3-3 thriller, the Real Madrid star was once again the difference-maker and scored the only goal of the game with a fourth-minute header.
While Morocco were on top for long periods, the Atlas Lions could not get the goal they deserved and needed. It was a similar outcome to the opening 1-0 loss to Iran when the North Africans had chances to win, but ended with nothing.
It leaves Morocco with zero points from two games in Group B and unable to finish in the top two with a final game against Spain on Monday now just a matter of pride.
“This is what happens in football,” Renard said. “In the penalty area at crucial times, the most gifted players are the ones who make all the difference. It is a lot easier to play with a player who can score from a goal opportunity. We have high quality players and should have been more effective as we had lots of chances.”
Ronaldo, named man of the match by FIFA after his fourth goal of the World Cup so far, recognized that it was a tough game for the European champions who now have four points from two games.
“I am very happy to score, but it is more important to win the game and get the points,” Ronaldo said. “We know if we lost we could be out. We knew they would be trying very hard and were very strong. It was a really tough game for us, but I managed to get the goal, and it was beautiful.”
Morocco were unhappy with the goal, with Renard asking reporters to look at the corner from which Portugal scored, hinting that Portuguese defender Pepe had fouled one of his players. “Have a good look at the corner kick and what the number three is doing and write the truth. I can’t say too much or I will be punished.”
As it is, however, Morocco are out regardless of what happens against Spain on June 25. Renard has, however, insisted that the team will leave Russia with their heads held high.
“I am not disappointed with the performance,” the French coach said. “I am very proud of my players, very proud of the country and proud of the staff. The whole Moroccan people are proud, even very proud, of this team. It felt like Casablanca in here and that is something you can never take away from the players.”
The well-travelled 49-year-old reflected on Morocco’s journey since he took the job in February 2016. “Then we were ranked 81 and now we are 41 and came to the World Cup for the first time in 20 years. Here we have shown we can play football, we do play football.”
Portuguese coach Fernando Santos paid tribute to the North Africans.
“They played well and challenged us. It is maybe an unfair result for them, that is football. If you score, you can win. I am not happy with the way we played, but we played against a good team.”