UAE Team Emirates will be among the teams lining up for the inaugural the Adriatica Ionica Race, a new international race, which gets underway in Italy on Wednesday.
The five-day race has been given 2.1 status by the UCI, features some of the peloton’s best, including Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) and Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors).
One of the men the UAE outfit will be looking to for inspiration and a shot at the yellow jersey is Valerio Conti.
The 26-year-old, who finished fourth in the youth classification at the Giro d’Italia and sixth at the Criterium du Dauphine, will be supported by Darwin Atapuma, Edward Ravisi and Simone Petilli.
Meanwhile, Ben Swift and Simone Consonni, who won the opening stage of the Tour de Slovenie, also gives the team options in the sprint.
Manuele Mori completes the seven-man line-up.
Commenting ahead of the race, Conti said: “I am very motivated; I really want to try to achieve some good results for the team.
“After strenuous efforts in the Giro d’Italia and the Criterium du Dauphine, I’m trying to prepare a balanced approach to the Adriatica Ionica Race, recuperating energy but at the same time maintaining the good form I enjoyed on the roads of Italy and France.
“I’ll see how my legs respond after the first stages and then I’ll consult with the team to consider whether or not there are circumstances in place to vie for the top spots in the general classification, or if it will be better to concentrate on individual stages.”
Wednesday’s stage will be a 23km team time trial from Musile di Piave to Lido di Jesolo.
UAE Team Emirates’ Alexander Kristoff sprinted to third place on Saturday’s eighth stage of the Tour de Suisse.
Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) won the group sprint ahead of Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) and Kristoff, while world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) placed fourth.
Kristoff, who won at Eschborn-Frankfurt and GP du canton d’Argovie earlier this season, secured his first top-five finish of the week after finishing 10th on first stage in Frauenfeld.
The 30-year-old said: “I’m a little upset. (Oliviero) Troia and (Roberto) Ferrari worked well to bring me into the best position.
“In the final metres, he set me up on the wheel of Demare, but when the Frenchman began his sprint, I could not accelerate like I wanted to.”
Richie Porte (BMC Racing) remains at the top of the overall classification ahead of Nairo Quintana (Movistar).
Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) sits in 12th thanks to his consistent work and stage win on Wednesday.
Today’s final stage is a 34.1km time-trial around Bellinzona.
Diego Ulissi took control of the fifth stage of the Tour de Suisse, winning on the uphill in Leukerbad. From 300 metres out, he charged and won for the 30th time in his career.
Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors) placed second and Tom-Jelte Slagter (Dimension Data) third. Ulissi (photo Bettini) moved up the overall, sitting now in eighth at 40 seconds from the new race leader Richie Porte (BMC Racing).
“Today’s win carries much weight, the Tour de Suisse is a prestigious race and it makes me proud to win here” Ulissi said. “I was able to come out of the Giro d’Italia with good condition, I remained concentrated knowing that in Switzerland I’d have stages suited to my characteristics. The stage today was one of those, and I pulled it off.
“I’m going to try to keep fighting all the way through the end of the Tour de Suisse given that on the climbs I feel good and in the time trial I can defend myself.”
Elsewhere, on a superb day for Team Emirates, Simone Consonni sprinted perfectly to earn his first professional win.
The 23-year-old Italian sprinter took charge of the first stage of the Tour of Slovenia, from Lendava to Murska Sabota, 159 km. He avoided two crashes in the last kilometre and topped Matteo Pelucchi (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Niccolo Bonifazio (Bahrain-Merida) on the line.
Thursday’s stage throws up the chance for the climbers in the field to make up some valuable time as the 186km ride features two feared climbs, to the top of Furka and Klausen.