UAE Team Emirates president Matar Al Dhaheri heralded a “great start” for the Emirates-backed team after skipper Rui Costa reigned supreme in a rain-soaked final stage at Yas Marina Circuit on Sunday night.
The Portuguese rider held onto his slim lead in the General Classification after winning the critical mountain Stage 3 on Saturday. The 30-year-old was well protected by his team-mates on the Formula One track, finishing the race 14th to give him overall triumph ahead of Katusha-Alpecin’s Ilnur Zakarin by four seconds.
It signals rapid progress for a team established just two months ago and president Al Dhaheri declared his pride after admitting putting the team under tremendous pressure leading up to the third staging of the Tour – the first time it had been held as a WorldTour race.
“It was tremendous pressure for the team,” said Al Dhaheri.
“We put them under tremendous pressure because this was the first time a WorldTour race comes to the UAE. They proved they were successful, they are champions and they made a whole nation happy.
“It’s great (that the team could cement overall victory after winning Stage 3). It’s the second month and I’m very happy for the team and all the effort they make. The team, the coach, the doctors, the sponsors.
“I think we proved we have a good, young team. They have achieved what we are looking for, it’s a great start. We are having a good season and I hope we will continue on with the same spirit.”
Tour ambassador Mark Cavendish, meanwhile, spoke in glowing terms of the continued growth of the race.
“Absolutely, it has grown again this year,” said the 31-year-old Manx Missile who won the opening stage on Thursday.
“The field we had this year was probably the strongest we’ll get in the whole year. I’m proud to be part of it as an ambassador and to see how much it’s grown. It’s a nice race and you can see how good it is by the fact we had some good racing across the four days.”