Tadej Pogacar will lead UAE Team Emirates at the 2022 Tour de France, where the Slovenian rider is bidding to win his third straight title.
UAE Team Emirates announced their eight-rider line-up on Monday, headlined by the world's top-ranked world cyclist. Pogacar is aiming to become the sixth cyclist in history to win the Tour de France in three successive years.
His first triumph, in 2020, was achieved in spectacular style when he snatched the lead in the race's penultimate stage, before defending the title with a dominant performance last year. Much like 12 months ago, Pogacar prepared for the Tour de France by winning his home race, the Tour of Slovenia, earlier this month.
The 23-year-old has a further three victories this year, winning the Tirreno–Adriatico, defending his UAE Tour title, and taking the Strade Bianche.
”It’s already my third time coming to the Tour and I’m really excited about it," Pogacar said. "We’ve worked really hard all year as a team to prepare for this and we hope we can give everyone watching three weeks of exciting racing.
"This year so far has been a positive one for the team and we are hoping to continue that here at the Tour. We know it won’t be easy and we’ll have many challenges but that is part of the magic of the Tour.”
Pogacar will be supported at the Tour de France by Poland's Rafal Majka – who finished runner-up to his teammate in Slovenia, where he won two stages – American Brandon McNulty, Spain's Marc Soler, Italian Matteo Trentin, Norway's Vegard Stake Laengen, New Zealand's George Bennett, and Danish rider Mikkel Norsgaard Bjerg.
Team manager Joxean Matxin Fernandez of Spain will lead the squad alongside sports directors Andrej Hauptman of Slovenia, Switzerland's Simone Pedrazzini, and Italian Marco Marcato.
“Every year the challenge to win the Tour gets harder, all we can do is prepare as best we can and trust our team to produce their best as a group," Fernandez said.
"Our ambition is to win the overall title with Pogacar and we have built a strong team around him. Last year we had a great group and the base of the team is similar to last years with a few strong additions in key areas.
"We have studied the route and it’s far from an easy parcours. Also the level of our competitors is really high, but we are confident and know that a big result is well within the capabilities of Tadej and the team."
The 2022 Tour de France begins on Friday, with the Grand Depart taking place from the Danish capital of Copenhagen. This year's race comprises 3,328km over 21 stages, starting with a 13km time trial, before heading towards the Alps by way of a cobbled stage through Arenberg and onto the Pyrenees. The race will conclude with the traditional ceremonial finish to the Champs Elysees in Paris.