PREVIEW | UAE Tour 2024 stage 7 - Jay Vine and Ben O'Connor fight for overall win at Jebel Hafeet

Preview. The UAE Tour will be decided on the slopes of Jebel Hafeet, as expected. The toughest climb of the race is the main feature of stage 7 and is where the race ends; Jay Vine is the race leader but holds a very tight margin over some of his rivals including Ben O'Connor.


The classic mountain stage of the UAE Tour. In the first part, the route winds through Al Ain, visiting many of its landmarks (Al Ain University, Al Qattara, Al Hili), and then takes a long desert ride to the west until it returns to Green Mubazzarah. Here begins the final ascent of Jebel Hafeet, which with its 10 km section will be the final judge of the race.

PREVIEW | UAE Tour 2024 stage 7 - Jay Vine and Ben O'Connor fight for overall win at Jebel Hafeet

Aside from winds there is nothing to fear from the day. It's a short day on the bike with only 161 kilometers on the menu, but the final ascent dictates this to be the queen stage most likely. The numbers aren't brutal, but very often very big differences are created in the slopes of Jebel Hafeet. 10.8 kilometers at 6.6% are the official details, but the gradients aren't as consistent as Jebel Jais.

In it's middle 7 kilometers the grades average 8% consistently, reaching as high as 11% with some steep hairpins included. Usually the main moves happen there, in what is a wide, completely exposed road which adds to the difficulty. The final kilometers have a couple of flat and even downhill sections, with some steep ramps inbetween. The final sprint will be uphill, although the late final corner has in the past seen crashes so caution must be had.

PREVIEW | UAE Tour 2024 stage 7 - Jay Vine and Ben O'Connor fight for overall win at Jebel Hafeet
Jebel Jais: 10.8 kilometers, 6.6%

The Weather

PREVIEW | UAE Tour 2024 stage 7 - Jay Vine and Ben O'Connor fight for overall win at Jebel Hafeet
Map UAE Tour 2024 stage 7  

Strong southwestern wind, which means that throughout the day - and mainly in the hour of racing leading up to the final climb - risks of echelons are very big, as there will be crosswinds. This is dangerous, the race can be lost here for many, and surely some teams will try to do the damage.

On the opposite side, the wind will be a cross-headwind or headwind in the final climb, and strong. It is an explosive climb and in the lower slopes the mountain may cover some of it, but the closer the riders get to the summit the more exposed they are. Differences may not be so big, specially if the damage doesn't happen beforehand.

The Favourites

Jay Vine - Second at Jebel Jais, but I argue this climb suits him better. A one-effort day - he will hope - it's exactly what Vine needs. Brandon McNulty may still recover and have a god day which could make him a threat for the stage win, but if not he and Mikkel Bjerg can provide great support in the climb. Vine has to be the one matching the attacks however, but in a normal day I think he can, and the headwind will help his case. It's his race to lose honestly, but his chances are quite good.

Ben O'Connor - Winner at Jebel Jais, form and confidence are very high. O'Connor, playing it safe, has a podium in his pocket at the moment. Sandwiched between UAE riders, it will not be easy to close the 11 seconds to Jay Vine. He needs time on the road to win the race, there is no other way. He certainly will attack if he's on a good day but he has to do so from early on. He can definitely still win the GC, the gaps to other rivals are small and it will be Vine and UAE that will have the responsibility to chase late on into the headwind if other rivals attack.

Soudal - Quick-Step - The main one I would say is Ilan van Wilder, 21 seconds back in fourth place. The Belgian has serious climbing legs, last year he was under the radar because of Evenepoel but he already proved himself. He can also win the GC, Quick-Step have Jan Hirt to play or to help in the scenario in a climb that will suit him much better. A team in form, motivated and specialists in the wind, a serious threat.

Lennert van Eetvelt - The ultimate wildcard. This rider was climbing with Vlasov and McNulty in January, and he was third at Jebel Jais. In steeper gradients, the lightweight could do even better, and in a climb that often ends in a sprint he definitely packs the necessary punch. A very interesting rider van Eetvelt is, he's already joined a breakaway this week to collect bonifications, and now inside the Top10 he does not have pressure to work. He can go all or nothing for the stage win and won't be seen as an immediate threat to the race lead, so can benefit from others' work. Lotto Dstny can snatch a big one to wrap off the week.

Outside of these men we have the likes of Max Poole, Pello Bilbao and Attila Valter who I personally believe can do quite well up a climb like this. Einer Rubio also finished in the GC group at Jebel Jais and without a doubt this climb suits him better. All of these are riders who can surprise towards the end if it gets tactical, whilst Bilbao absolutely has the legs to win in a sprint if necessary.

Matthew Riccitello, Michael Storer, Simon Carr, Jason Osborne, Bart Lemmen, Juan Pedro López and Tobias Foss are all riders to keep under eye, likely to fill spots in the Top10 - both stage and GC results.

Prediction UAE Tour 2024 stage 7:

*** Jay Vine, Ben O'Connor
** Lennert van Eetvelt, Ilan van Wilder
* Jan Hirt, Max Poole, Attila Valter, Einer Rubio, Matthew Riccitello, Michael Storer

Pick: Jay Vine

Preview written by Rúben Silva.

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