Being a professional cyclist is an amazing adventure that opens your eyes to lots of cultures and a whole world of new destinations.
This season I raced in Argentina, Colombia, UAE, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, UK and China - where I ended the season this week taking part in the Tour of Guangxi. Ten different countries across three different continents in just 10 months. My relatives at home have barely seen me all year!
It was the first time I had ever visited Colombia after competing in the Tour of Colombia in February and I fell in love with the place and the people. This is why I decided to go back there for altitude training in May.
But when it comes to relaxing and taking a break from racing, the UAE is up there with my top destinations, so I’m so super happy to be back here this week.
Each time we visit, we can see the development in cycling and the impact it is having on the next generation. For every pro rider, it is great to be able to inspire young people of all backgrounds, abilities and nationalities to pick up a bike and start riding.
We arrived in the UAE on Wednesday for our end of season team building trip. It’s important for us that the first time the new squad for 2020 gets together, it’s in the country of our main sponsors. It adds value to who we are racing for and reminds us of the project we are a part of.
I always love being in the UAE and have fantastic memories from last year. From the visit to the Grand Mosque to seeing the sunrise in the desert, these are moments I will never forget.
Being on the road so much means that your team becomes your second family, a mixture of nationalities from all different backgrounds who you spend time training, racing and travelling together. These are guys that you share your biggest wins with and the guys who are there to pick you up when you’ve fallen. I’m honoured to call them my teammates and welcome some very talented new additions to the roster for next season.
They are all important riders and our team looks stronger than ever, but the one I am looking forward to joining the most is Argentine champion Maximiliano Richeze. Maximiliano will reunite with [Fernando] Gaviria and will play a big part in helping me to support the sprinters.
Tadej Pogacar on the final Vuelta a Espana podium
My best moments of 2019 are, as expected, the wins. This year was a record year for the team with 29 wins, 36 second places and 29 third places. We are now the fourth best cycling team in the world which is an unbelievable achievement, given we have only been around three years!
There are a lot of victories to choose from but my favourites of 2019 are the double from Gaviria in the Tour of San Luis, the success of [Sebastian] Molano in Colombia, the huge victory of Gaviria in the UAE Tour and the three victories of [Tadej] Pogacar and his podium at the Vuelta. I worked hard and contributed to these successes and I'm proud to be a part of them.
I am not one to make predictions or speculate, but one thing is for sure: year on year, this team is becoming stronger and stronger and next season will be no different.
As for 2020 we will continue to inspire more and more children in the UAE to start cycling and be a team that cycling fans worldwide admire.
For us this starts on Friday when we will be hosting a community ride-along. Meeting fans, coaching kids and generally being a part of the cycling culture we are helping to create.