Two Tour de France winners top the bill at the first major World Tour race of the season with Chris Froome and Tadej Pogacar on the start list for the UAE Tour, part of which was unveiled Thursday.
All 19 elite World Tour teams will be at the February 21-27 race in its third edition with last year's event cut short due to an outbreak of Covid-19.
The 22-year-old Slovenian Pogacar will be in the spotlight after his sensational win on the Tour de France last September.
"I'll be fighting to be on the top step again at every race I enter," he said this week.
But he will have to share the limelight with the seven time Grand Tour winner Froome, making his big race debut in the colours of his new outfit Israel Start Up Nation.
Fighting back from a dreadful accident in June 2019 the now 35-year-old Froome said this week "Age is a state of mind. I feel relatively young in cycling years."
Froome's old team Ineos lead with their new recruit Adam Yates, winner of the 2020 UAE Tour, who will be assisted by world champion time-trialist Filippo Ganna, who won a sensational four stages on the 2020 Giro.
There will also be fierce competition for the sprint jersey with Irish ace Sam Bennett and the Australian 'pocket rocket' Caleb Ewan the most likely candidates.