Chris Froome now plans to make his Israel Start-Up Nation debut at the UAE Tour next month where this week it was confirmed that Ireland's Sam Bennett is due to get his 2021 campaign underway.

Four-time Tour de France winner Froome was previously due to begin his season at the Vuelta a San Juan but the Argentinian race, scheduled for next week, has been called off amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead the 35-year-old will head to the United Arab Emirates for his first race since leaving the Ineos Grenadiers this winter.

The UAE Tour is scheduled to take place from 21-27 February and is the first WorldTour event on the calendar.

Bennett, who is among the contenders for RTÉ Sport 2020 Sportsperson of the Year, is due to line up for Deceuninck-QuickStep to contest the sprints.

"First race back, it's the one you really want to go and test your form and you really want to win there to get your season off on a good note," he told RTÉ Sport this week.

"Then you've Paris-Nice (7-14 March) and Milan-San Remo (20 March), so it's a really important period of the season.

"It's the first block. You'll have some downtime after Gent-Wevelgem (28 March) and then you start building towards the Tour de France.

"Then you're trying to hold on for the rest of the season because by that time you're very tired."

Adam Yates, who won last year's shortened race for Mitchelton-Scott, will return to the race after making his move to Ineos, with the field of general classification hopefuls headlined by Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar.

Froome had been considering starting his season at the Volta ao Algarve but the Portuguese race, scheduled for 17-21 February, has also been postponed.

Froome has spent the winter training in California, continuing to rehab the injuries from his horror crash at the 2019 Criterium du Dauphine at the Red Bull High Performance Center in Santa Monica.

The former Tour de France yellow jersey winner revealed he had continued to feel pain throughout last season and discovered that, after having two screws removed from his leg at the end of the year, he had a 20% strength deficit on his right side which he has since worked to address.

Froome also began his 2020 season at the UAE race, though the event was cut short due to suspected cases of coronavirus within the race bubble, with all riders quarantined in the race hotel and tested before being allowed to leave.