The Tour de France 2023. Wow. What an amazing spectacle for cycling fans around the world. It had everything: drama, action and some memorable moments for my team. Three stage victories, several podium places and holding the yellow and white jersey for long periods was an exceptional performance from the guys.
Adam Yates took an incredible victory during stage one in Bilbao and Tadej Pogacar took two fine stage wins on his way to the podium. Those guys really showed their class throughout the Tour, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the team.
This year, I think we really showed our strength as a group. This is absolutely key if you want to succeed in any World Tour event, let alone the Tour de France. We noticed last year that we were missing a lot of depth when guys had to pull out through Covid and injury. Losing riders in the toughest race of the season makes the challenge even harder – so I was super proud of each and every one of them and how they performed across the 21 stages.
Tadej had some real highs and lows throughout the Tour. He showed why he is the best rider in the world with his attacks and stage victories, but also what a great champion he is in the way he fought back to win Stage 20 after some really tough days against Jonas Vingegaard. His character and personality shone through, and these experiences will only benefit him as a rider in the future.
Looking at the season up to this point, it’s been a very good year for the team. We have amassed 46 victories in 2023 since Jay Vine kickstarted our season so impressively at the Tour Down Under. This success isn’t down to luck – every member of the team works so incredibly hard, both behind the scenes and when racing. To me, it is no surprise. It’s a special group.
I think a lot of our success is also down to us representing the UAE. This is very important. All of the riders and staff in the organisation are proud to fly the flag for the UAE on a global stage. Performances during races are important, but so is how we go about our business on a day-to-day basis. We make sure we do it with a smile on our faces.
The 2023 Giro d’Italia was another very strong showing from our guys. Joao Almeida is such a consistent rider, and he showed to the world that he can compete with the very best at a high level. His stage win was something special, in the way he attacked and fought until the end against a legend like Geraint Thomas.
It was also an amazing moment for Brandon McNulty who secured his first stage victory at a Grand Tour race. Both Joao and Brandon have been with the team and grown with the team for a few years now, so to see them grow up and mature as riders is what makes this sport so beautiful. Winning a stage at a Grand Tour is a big moment and very important step for them both, so I couldn’t be happier.
Looking ahead to the Vuelta, the quality of the field is very high but we feel we have a very competitive team capable of producing some great moments. Juan Ayuso will be looking to replicate his amazing performance in 2022, achieving a podium on debut. He is a super talented guy, very ambitious, and no doubt he has a great future ahead of him. He’s worked hard to come back from injury and shown some great form in Romandie and the Tour de Suisse, so I can’t wait to see him perform for us this year.
Lastly, and most importantly, a big thank you to the people of the UAE. The way cycling has gone from strength to strength across the region and the support we receive every time we visit the UAE is unbelievable. It really means a lot to the riders to know they have this support behind them at home.