Despite the fact that the UAE – Abu Dhabi Professional Cycling Team was only granted a place on the World Tour 14 days ago after initial Chinese backing fell through, Maruo Gianetti insists it has long been his dream to bring professional cycling to the Emirates.
The UCI awarded UAE – Abu Dhabi the 18th spot on the 2017 World Tour on December 22 after project coordinator Gianetti and team manager Giuseppe Saronni secured backing from Matar Suhail Al Yabhouni Al Dhaheri’s Kopaonik Property Investment LLC in just 10 days after the planned TJ Sport team application collapsed.
Both Saronni and Gianetti are former professional riders, and Gianetti is thrilled something positive has emerged out of long-time World Tour veterans Lampre-Merida’s demise.
“It’s been a long time I work on this project. I’ve had a dream for a long time and my thanks go to Mr Matar,” said Gianetti, who competed for Switzerland at the 2000 Summer Olympics.
“It wasn’t just a project that came out of Lampre folding. I was in China working on negotiations but the timing for the group in China was delayed, it caused a big problem so for this reason I spoke to Mr Matar and told him there was an opportunity. We can create something great.
“He immediately appreciated this and this is why we started working on it so quickly.”
Aside from targeting individual and team glory in the season ahead, Gianetti says promoting cycling and active lifestyles to the UAE’s youth is also of paramount concern.
He added: “This is not a normal project. The team will be the focus for the young children here to take up sport. We want to go into schools to teach the young people to use the bike, not for being champions, just to be fit, healthy and happy.
“Of course the big goals of the team is to win races, but another is to create a future healthy society in the Emirates, starting with youngsters.
“Because the UAE is now not just some place in the desert. Now it is the economical centre of the world. The vision I see here I don’t see in any other part of the world.
“The vision the royal family have for the long term is only for the benefit of the population. There’s no economical or personal gain. Cycling is needed to reduce pollution and this is a target for the UAE. It’s why I think they deserve to be awarded World Tour status.”
Emirati rider Yousif Mirza has been recruited from Al Nasr Pro Cycling Team–Dubai and Gianetti says the 28-year-old will have two important roles to play.
“First of all Yousif is a good rider, he’s good enough to be a part of the World Tour and I hope he will get better,” said Gianetti.
“He also represents that the dream is possible, the youngsters can see that being an international rider is possible, and they will have a chance to be a professional rider with us.”
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