UAE Team Emirates star Vegard Stake Laengen cruised to a first victory on his sixth attempt at the Norwegian National Road Race Championships.
The 29-year-old, who is in his second season with the UAE outfit, reached the finish line in Sandefjord, 13 seconds ahead of Rasmus Tiller and 29 ahead of Kristian Aasvold.
Of the 65 cyclists participating in the country’s most prestigious cycling event, Laengen stormed clear of the field thanks in part to the industrious work of UAE teammates Alexander Kristoff and Sven Bystrom.
It was Laengen’s sixth win of his career, with his last triumph coming two years ago in the overall classification in the Tour de l’Alsace in northeastern France.
The Fredrikstad native has enjoyed a mixed 2018 campaign to date, but success on home soil should boost his confidence ahead of a crucial month in which he could be selected in the UAE team for the Tour de France.
Laengen said: “The support of Bystrom and Kristoff was fundamental to allow me to be there in the final phases of such an important race for me.
“In the final kilometres, I was able to get into the decisive attack with the nine other attackers. And knowing that I had little chance in the sprint, I jumped early at four kilometres remaining and I was able to get to the line alone, giving my team a lot of joy.
“It’s a beautiful win, I’ll carry this jersey in every race now for the next year.”
As part of its ongoing commitment to inspire the next generation of cyclists, UAE Team Emirates has partnered with Dubai-based sports activity provider Just Play, to launch the UAE Team Emirates Youth Academy.
The three-week summer cycling programme – which targets boys and girls from 11-16 years-old and starts on Sunday, July 8 – coincides with the world’s most prestigious cycling race, the Tour de France.
The coaching clinics will teach youngsters the basics of indoor cycling, using professional training bikes in a purpose built, air-conditioned studio.
UAE and Asian Road Cycling Champion Yousif Mirza was joined by teammate Vegard Stake Laengen at Dubai Sports World as the pair met the first batch of UAE Team Emirates Youth Academy participants from Sunmarke International School in Dubai.
The pair provided useful tips on technique, shared memories of cycling as youngsters, and talked about what it takes to make it to the top, before they hopped on their bikes to demonstrate just how much power is in the legs of the elite rider.
Speaking at the launch, Mirza said: “It gives me so much pride to ride for UAE Team Emirates and fly the flag for my own country, because I know that our successes on the UCI World Tour will encourage more young people in the UAE to take up the sport.
“Launching a Youth Academy program is a great way to help youngsters get into cycling and doing it indoors at Dubai Sports World means they can get fit and stay healthy even during our hot summer months.”
The daily coaching clinics are themed around the 21 stages of the Tour de France and give youngsters the chance to experience some of the same conditions faced by riders competing on this year’s tour.
The UAE Team Emirates Youth Academy will run as part of the official Dubai Sports World Summer Camp programme from July 8-29.
For more information on how to book a place on the Youth Academy visit http://justplay.ae/summercamp/
UAE Team Emirates’ young guns produced one of the team’s best performances of the season, with Edward Ravasi, Valerio Conti and Simone Petilli all finishing in the top 10 of the General Classification at the Adriatica Ionica Race.
It is the UAE’s second team win of the year after victory at the Tour de Romandie last month, which will boost confidence ahead of the Tour de France on July 7.
In the Team Time Trial, UAE recorded the second best time, whilst Simone Consonni continued his run of form by finishing second, sixth and seventh respectively in the three sprint stages.
Meanwhile, Ravasi finished fourth in the queen stage of the race, but was hit with a puncture that prevented him from maintaining a podium place in the overall General Classification – eventually finishing fourth.