Nils Politt: Belgian Classics success for UAE Team Emirates will etch my name in history

In the latest column from the UCI World Tour's top-ranked team, the German cyclist discusses his favourite part of the season and the big goal for Tour de France

Nils Politt finished third for UAE Team Emirates at the Tour of Flanders. Luca Bettini / SprintCyclingAgency
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When the No 1 team in the world comes calling, you stand up and listen. Opportunities to rub shoulders with the very best don’t come around too often, so upon hearing of UAE Team Emirates’ interest in me, it was something I simply couldn’t turn down. The timing of the move has come at a point in my career where I feel as confident as I’ve ever felt on the bike.

I’m coming into what should be my best years, so I wanted to make the most out of this time to race at the highest level. Not only do we possess the best group of riders in the world, but the support ­staff and management are second to none. We are given all the tools we need to perform, and we share a collective desire to win for each other as much as we want to win for ourselves.

We are currently in one of my favourite periods of the season: the Belgian Classics. The history, the passion, and the atmosphere around these brutal one-day races really reinforces the importance of them to every rider in the peloton. Win a stage race throughout the season, your name is spoken about for a while. Win one of the Belgian Classics, your name will live forever.

Securing a podium place in the Tour of Flanders was an incredibly special moment for me. World champion Mathieu van Der Poel was in a league of his own and produced a spectacular ride, but I felt our team was strong enough to work together and push for a podium.

It was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster given I originally finished fourth, but I was then promoted to third after Michael Matthews was relegated to 11th. While I felt sorry for Michael, I was so proud of the team, and I think we deserved the result.

The Tour of Flanders is a special race, but I think Paris-Roubaix, or ‘Hell of the North’ as it is rightfully known, possesses the biggest challenge of them all. I managed to secure another top-five finish after 260km of some of the hardest racing I’ve ever known across the cobbles, before finishing in the Velodrome.

Again, this result wouldn’t have been possible without my teammates. Even though we haven’t produced that one spectacular win, we’re all incredibly happy with the way we’ve worked together over these last few weeks, and I think we’ve done a really good job against the very best riders in the world.

Looking ahead to the remainder of the season, the big goal is the Tour de France. This race holds a special place in my heart, and winning Stage 12 in 2021 is still one of the proudest moments of my career.

However, we’ll be going into the Tour with the sole focus of riding for Tadej [Pogacar] as he tries to reclaim his crown. Having raced against him for a number of years, I’ve always admired him. But now as his teammate, I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything like him. His performances in Strade Bianche, followed by his win in the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, was some of the most dominating racing I’ve ever seen.

He can beat anyone over the cobbles, over a week’s racing, or over three weeks of Grand Tour racing in the mountains. Riding alongside him as his teammate is much nicer than riding against him.

The team are in excellent shape, with 21 victories to date, as we approach the start of the Grand Tour season. There is still a lot of the season left and some of the biggest races are still to come, so it’s an extremely exciting time.

I, alongside every single one of my teammates, feel the incredible support of our fans in the UAE every single time we race. It’s an absolute privilege to wear this jersey, thank you for making me feel so welcome. The team and I are determined to secure race wins for every single one of you.

Updated: April 10, 2024, 8:44 AM