UAE Team Emirates enjoyed a successful Saturday as Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar won the 2022 Strade Bianche, while Emirati rider Yousif Mirza claimed victory in the UAE Time Trial Championship.
Fresh from successfully defending his UAE Tour title, Pogacar dominated the 184km race in Tuscany with the Slovenian taking the win 37 seconds ahead of second-placed Alejandro Valverde of Movistar. Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl rider Kasper Asgreen completed the podium 46 seconds behind Pogacar.
To make the Slovenian's victory even more impressive, there was an accident 100km from the finish line, in which the UAE Team Emirates captain was involved and suffered abrasions.
“It was a beautiful, incredible victory. I started from afar, and I was only sure I made it when there were about 5km to go. But even on the last climb I checked if anyone was coming behind me," Pogacar, 23, said.
"I attacked in the Sante Marie sector, a part of the route that is usually crucial for the result of the race: no one followed me, so I decided to continue alone and I am happy to have managed to reach the finish line. Also because they never gave up and, with the passing of the kilometres, my energy was decreasing."
The Strade Bianche triumph extends a perfect start to the season for Pogacar, who also won the UAE Tour last month in his only other UCI race of the year so far.
The two-time Tour de France champion's victory came after Mirza’s victory in the UAE Time Trial Championship on Saturday morning, bringing UAE Team Emirates’ season wins to 13.
Mirza's victory marked the ninth career title for the Emirati, in addition to his 11 road titles, making him the most decorated road cyclist in the history of the UAE. Mirza had to overcome a puncture in the middle of this the Time Trial but showed his class to remount and cruise to victory.
“It was a good course for me today. It’s my ninth TT title and the sixth in a row," Mirza, 33, said. "I hope to make it a double next week in the road race. I had a tense moment with a flat tyre in the middle of the race, but I got through it and successfully defended the title and I’m very happy with it. Hopefully I can make it a 12th road title victory next Saturday.”