Tadej Pogacar's success in the UAE Tour has been hailed as a dream that has been realised by UAE Team Emirates chairman Matar Suhail Al Yabhouni.
The Slovenian, 22, was crowned overall winner of the only WorldTour race in the Middle East at the Abu Dhabi Breakwater on Saturday.
"Tadej did the job for us but it was a collective effort with the rest of the team, technical staff and the management, all contributing to this success," Al Yabhouni told The National.
“It certainly was the culmination of meticulous planning, an internal camp and of course the execution at the end. To win the UAE Tour has always been our objective and that dream has now been realised.
“Of course success didn’t just come to us. There was a lot of work that went in to assemble a strong team which was supported by our country’s leadership, without whom we wouldn’t have achieved what we have accomplished up to now.”
The UAE Team Emirates riders and the technical staff took part in a three-week camp in the UAE ahead of the WorldTour race.
“Still there was no guarantee the UAE Team Emirates would win the UAE Tour but we believe the work we did certainly had a big impact on the success we had at the end,” Al Yabhouni added.
“When I met the team and the technical staff at the end of our camp, I mentioned to them that it was very important for us to win this home race and they have now delivered it in no small way.
“There were a lot of people to thank aside from the riders, technical staff, the team management and sponsors.
“We dedicate this win to our people and country’s leadership for their unstinted support to establish a strong team. Obviously, our aim from the outset was to make an impact in the WorldTour.
“I believe we have achieved that to a great extent. It’s a continuation of the work we began since the formation of the UAE Team Emirates and this is an ongoing thing to keep improving for more success and achievements on the world stage.”
Pogacar was runner up behind Adam Yates 12 months ago after the UAE Tour was called off with two stages left following the coronavirus outbreak.
The UAE Team Emirates’ Tour de France winner reversed that result after he laid the foundation for success with an excellent performance in the stage two time trial by finishing fourth before grabbing the overall leader’s red jersey with victory on Jebel Hafeet on the following day.
He consolidated that lead with a second place finish on top of Jebel Jais in stage five before maintaining that lead across the next two stages to etch his name in the UAE Tour roll of honour.
Pogacar also won the youth rankings, while UAE Team Emirates took the team classification.
After finishing the final 147-kilometre stage in Abu Dhabi to secure his overall title, Pogacar said: “It was not an easy stage, the wind made a difference and it was quite a nervous day. Thanks to the team I managed to stay in the first group.
“Then there was the crash of Adam Yates. We thought it was best to lower the pace to allow him to rejoin the group.
“The UAE Tour was the first big goal of the season for the team. I am very happy to have achieved the win in the home race and I am proud of how the team has performed.
“I would be happy to return to the UAE Tour in 2022 to defend the title I have just won, while as regards to the short-term goals, I hope to be able to count on a good condition also in my next race: Strade Bianche.”