The UCI WorldTour 2019 is less than one-week away and, for UAE Team Emirates, it not only marks their third season as a professional cycling squad on the sport’s biggest stage, but one that promises to be their most successful yet.
Their 2018 campaign brought the team a series of high-profile wins across the year, with impressive podiums in one day classics, stage races and Grand Tours – most notably the Tour de France, where both Dan Martin and Alexander Kristoff earned first-place finishes.
This year the team has bolstered the squad with even more firepower, bringing in both world-class riders with proven pedigree on the WorldTour and young talent with the ability to grow into stars of the future.
The new roster of riders will give the team an edge for 2019, elevating them to the next level with the goal of being one of the most competitive teams on the tour.
The new signings have been made possible through the continued support of the team’s existing sponsors, which include local partners Emirates and First Abu Dhabi Bank as well as Emirati real estate development company Emaar, who now feature prominently on the front and back of the team’s jersey.
The most notable of the new riders signed during the winter off-season was rising Colombian sprinting talent Fernando Gaviria.
The 24-year-old was a two-stage Tour de France winner in 2018 with Quick-Step and is heralded as one of cycling’s most promising talents. Despite his tender years, Gaviria’s winning mentality has seen the powerhouse pick up stage wins at the Giro d’Italia (2017), Amgen Tour of California (2018), Tour of Poland (2016), Tirreno-Adriatico (2016 & 2017) and Tour of Britain (2015 & 2017).
Ahead of the new season, Gaviria said: “I’m happy that I’m going to start the new season wearing the jersey of UAE Team Emirates. In addition to the excitement of racing for a new team, I’m really keen to better understand the culture and traditions of the United Arab Emirates and to appreciate how cycling is really growing in the region.
“I admire the team’s project in the UAE, so it’s important that the riders can help inspire young kids to cycle and to promote a healthy lifestyle. I think it’s great that cycling is becoming aspirational and I really want to contribute by achieving great results for the team.”
Joining Gaviria is countryman and Colombian national champion, Sergio Henao. The climber joins UAE Team Emirates from Team Sky, where he secured a number of important wins, most recently the 2017 edition of Paris-Nice which saw him take home the General Classification title.
Another Colombian to join the ranks is Juan Sebastian Molano. The 24-year-old had an impressive 2018 season in cycling’s second division (Pro Continental), picking up the General Classification title at the Tour of China and taking first place in the Pan American Championships Road Race.
He will be looking to make a big impact after stepping up to the UCI WorldTour level.
The quartet of Colombian riders is completed by Cristian Munoz. At just 22, he is the youngest to join for the 2019 season, also graduating from a Columbian Pro Continental cycling team.
Across the Atlantic, UAE Team Emirates secured the signatures of Portuguese twin brothers, Ivo and Rui Oliveira. The former is the reigning Portuguese U-23 Individual Time Trial (ITT) champion, while Rui is the reigning Portuguese U-23 national road race champion.
Another young name to join the Emirati line-up is Belgian Jasper Philipsen. The 20-year-old had an unbelievable 2018 season, picking up a number of domestic wins and becoming one of the most sought after prospects in professional cycling.
Capping off the new names is Swiss rider, Tom Bohli. Having spent the last four years with BMC Racing Team, Bohli joins with a wealth of WorldTour experience.
Team Manager Joxean Matxin said: “Starting a new season is always exciting, because everything you focused on during the winter break is transferred to the road and you can finally see if all your efforts are rewarded by results.
“In 2019 we’ll face even bigger challenges, however, we have strengthened our roster and improved the quality of our structure and processes so we are ready for it.”
Team CEO Mauro Gianetti added: “This will be our third year as UAE Team Emirates and we have never been more excited or more confident of our potential.
“We have signed world class riders – along with some of the best up and coming talent – and they have all bonded extremely well with our existing roster during the winter training camps.
“Off the road we have also forged new relationships with sponsors from the UAE, who will be invaluable in helping the team to build its profile and grow the sport of cycling across the country. We can’t wait to get this season started and show ours fans what we’re capable of.”
The 2019 WorldTour season gets under way with the Tour Down Under in Australia from Sunday.
UAE Team Emirates line-up for Tour Down Under:
Sven Erik Bystrom (Norway), Rory Sutherland (Australia), Ivo Oliveira (Portugal), Jasper Philipsen (Belgium), Tadej Pogacar, Jan Polanc (both Slovenia), Diego Ulissi (Italy)
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