Tadej Pogacar brings Tour de France momentum to UAE Tour challenge
Spotlight on UAE Team Emirates rider during the only WorldTour race in Middle East
UAE Team Emirates rider Tadej Pogacar is hoping to raise the bar following his sensational victory in the 2020 Tour de France when he returns for the first race of the season – the UAE Tour – starting from Sunday.
The only WorldTour race in the Middle East, the third edition of the UAE Tour will have seven stages.
It has once again attracted a top-class field that includes defending champion Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers), Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), and Pogacar, all coming out for the first time this season.
With memories of his sensational Tour de France victory still fresh, Pogacar will be the star attraction as he races for the host nation.
Expectations from the Slovenian, who was runner up behind Yates in the race 12 months ago, are naturally high.
Pogacar achieved superstar status in the UAE after his image was projected onto Burj Khalifa following his victory in the Tour de France.
“I’m the same rider with the same motivation, same focus and same goals,” the Slovenian said of the publicity he received.
“This race for our team is really important. It’s a home race. We were a little bit disappointed last year and we have another chance this year. The preparation was really good for this race and we will try to win.”
Chris Froome is returning to the race following his rehabilitation from the crash he suffered at the Criterium du Dauphine in 2019.
“It is a pleasure to start the season out here,” the five-time Tour de France winner said.
“Great to be here in my new colours of Israel Start-Up Nation. I’m looking forward to racing.
"I had a good winter training in California. Hopefully addressed a lot of weaknesses I was dealing with last year after the crash I had. This will be the start of a fresh campaign towards the Tour de France this year.
“The rehab process definitely is more complete at this time than last year. This is the first race for me to just getting into racing and start that progression to the Tour de France."
Yates returns with a new team and rides for the first time as a defending champion in a world race.
“It is always going to be tricky when you are in the same team for so long but I’m ready and have prepared well for this race,” he said.
“There is not pressure at all racing for a new team and as the defending champion. The preparation has been perfect and amazing form. I feel good.”
The UAE Tour’s opening stage is a flat run from Abu Dhabi along the coast to Al Mirfa, expected to end in a bunch sprint finish.
Published: February 20, 2021 08:38 PM