Emirati rider Yousif Mirza has vowed to give his best on his WorldTour debut after he was named in UAE Team Emirates’ seven-man squad for the Amgen Tour of California.
The 28-year-old will line up in the race, which begins on Sunday, alongside colleagues Simone Consonni, Filippo Ganna, Marko Kump, Vergad Stake Laengen, Kristjian Durasek, Federico Zurlo and Andrea Guardini.
For Mirza, who became the first road cyclist to represent the UAE at the 2016 Olympic Games, is looking forward to testing himself.
“This will be my first WorldTour tour and I will do my best to give all my support to the team,” he said. “The weather is wonderful in California and just ideal for cycling. We are ready to take on the Tour of California and looking for some stage wins.”
— @UAE-TeamEmirates (@TeamUAEAbuDhabi) May 13, 2017
The seven-stage race starts in Sacramento on Sunday with the course involving sprints, a mountain climb and an individual time trial before the grand finish in Pasadena on May 20.
Marco Scirea, sporting director of UAE Team Emirates, said: “Our goal in this race is for our young riders to gain experience as well as some great results.
“For the first time the Tour of California is now part of the UCI WorldTour calendar and it is important that the team does well. Our confirmed line up for this race is strong as we have riders like Consonni, for the sprint, Ganna for the Individual Time Trial and Durasek for the General Classification.”
World champion Peter Sagan, winner of the 2015 edition, of Bora-Hansgrohe will be aiming to add more honours to his CV, while the field also includes two-time defending Dubai Tour champion Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors) and Team Sky’s Elia Viviani.
UAE Team Emirates’ Jan Polanc was the first rider from the peloton to crest the only categorised climb of the day during stage seven of the Giro d’Italia.
The Polish rider will defend the maglia azzurra (the blue jersey) once more in stage eight after extending his overall lead in the mountains classification.
Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) won stage seven after a three-up sprint whilst Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floor) continues to lead in the general classification.
Stage eight begins in Molfetta and ends 189 km later in the tourist town of Peschici with a steep uphill finish. For the climbers, there is a category 2 (Mt. Saint Angelo) and category 4 (Coppa Santa Tecla) climb after 84km of relatively flat riding alongside the Adriatic Sea.
Mountains Classification after Stage Six
1 Cannondale 85h 03′ 15”
2 UAE Team Emirates +5”
3 Movistar +32”
General Classification after Stage Seven:
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors 33:56:07
2 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky +10
3 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott
17 Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) +46s
Abu Dhabi-based cyclist Roisin Thomas covered a gruelling 472 kilometres across the seven emirates of the UAE in 14 hours 43 minutes on Wednesday.
The 28-year-old is the first women to cycle around the seven emirates having completed the challenge in 2016.
Starting at 5am in Abu Dhabi, Thomas cycled through Dubai, Fujairah, Umm Al Quwain, Ajman, Ras Al Kahimah and Sharjah, before finishing up in Nad Al Sheba at 2am on Thursday morning.
From intense heat on the Old Hatta Road to some rain in Fujairah, the cycle across the seven emirates offered everything for Thomas and her strong team of four riders.
“It was fantastic. I’m really happy with the response and support we’ve had. The camaraderie among the group was brilliant and it was really enjoyable all the way through,” Thomas told Sport360.
“We were always ahead of schedule. At 12 when the sun was at its highest point, we were on the Old Hatta Road. We had to make one unplanned trip under a tunnel to get shade because it was really hot.”
In Dibba Al Fujairah, a surprise visitor joined the group in UAE national champion Abdullah Al Falasi, who was out training at the same time.
One of the highlights of the journey for Thomas was the beautiful scenery on the stretch from Dibba Al Fujairah to Umm Al Quwain.
“You are climbing and then when you reach the top you can see the sun setting over the bay. It was really perfect,” added Thomas.
Of course, the most special feeling of the day was when they edged closer to the finish line at Nad Al Sheba after over 14 hours on the bike.
“When everyone saw the Meydan Road come into view, that feeling was really special. I like the feeling of everyone around you feeling positive. That feeling of ‘we did it, and we are all fit and well and still smiling’,” she said.
The other riders supporting Roisin were Raslan Abbadi of Jordan, Ahmed Al Haj of UAE, Andrew Laity of England and Rener Kabayan of the Philippines.
Thomas’ attention now turns to the National Championships in Ireland in June and the UCI World Championships in France in August.