Emirati all-rounder Yousif Mirza heads to Europe with 11 of his team-mates in their first set of races for the 2019 season, as UAE Team Emirates take on Challenge Mallorca, a four day competition from January 31 to February 3.
Four seven-man teams will be guided by sports director Marco Marzano and technical assistant Paolo Tiralongo across four different one-day races.
The team for the Trofeo Ses Salines, Campos, Porreres, Felanitx on January 31 includes: Fabio Aru, Manuele Mori, Marco Marcato (all Italy), Alexander Kristoff, Vegard Stake Laengen (both Norway), Yousif Mirza (UAE) and Rui Oliveira (Portugal).
Riders competing at the Trofeo Andratx Loseta on February 1 are: Kristian Durasek (Croatia), Kristoff, Stake Laengen, Dan Martin (Ireland), Simone Petilli, Edward Ravasi (both Italy) and Aleksandr Riabushenko (Belarus).
The team for Trofeo de Tramuntana on February 2 is: Aru, Durasek, Martin, Mirza, Petilli, Ravasi and Riabushenko.
Finally the Trofeo Palma contingent on February 3 is: Durasek, Kristoff, Stake Laengen, Marcato, Mori and Oliveira.
Mirza said: “I can’t wait for this new season to begin. This will be year three of the amazing adventure of UAE Team Emirates, we improved a lot and we want to achieve better results.
“In the early races, my team-mates were very good in terms of results. My path in WorldTour cycling has been so exciting up to now, I’m becoming a better rider day after day thanks to the huge skills of the team’s management, staff and directors.
“It’s great to race in Mallorca with most of the top riders of the team, I’ll try to exploit the race in order to check my fitness and to support the team’s captains.”
“The Challenge Mallorca takes a certain importance given that we have 12 riders heading there,” said Marzano.
“Our objective is not just results, but to use the four days of racing to better understand how our winter training programme has improved the riders’ form.
“The 12 cyclists will rotate in the races, with five riders not competing each day but training under the guidance of our coaches instead. We are confident that this Mallorca trip will help us in our overall 2019 plan, which has already helped us achieve great results in Australia and Argentina.”
Fernando Gaviria, who made headlines during the 2018 Tour de France for his two emphatic stage wins, will pull on the UAE Team Emirates jersey for the first time this Sunday as he gets his 2019 season under way at the Vuelta a San Juan.
The rising Columbian sprint superstar will be supported by an Italian quartet of riders including Simone Consonni, Valerio Conti, Oliveiro Troia and the highly experienced Roberto Ferrari in Argentina. The six-man team will be completed by another new signing, the promising young Swiss talent Tom Bohli.
The seven stage race begins on Sunday with a 159.1km out-and-back route from San Juan to Pocito. The flat stage only features two small climbs – over the Alto de las Vacas – and culminates with a slightly downhill run in to the finish line, perfectly setting the scene for an exciting bunch sprint on the first day of racing.
Gaviria said: “I return to Argentina and San Juan with gusto. I have great memories with my victories, although last year I had to quit after falling.
“In 2019, I hope to match the successes of the two previous years. It will also be my debut with UAE Team Emirates and it is obvious that I would like to start on the right foot and with the hope that it will be a great season for me and my new team.”
Stage 2 from Chimbas to Punta Negra will be a test for the legs. The 160.2km route takes the peloton up and over the 960m high Alto Punta Negra four times during the day, before ascending the Peri Lago Punta Negra climb for a gruelling summit finish 1,000m above sea level.
Stage 3 is one for the specialists, a short and straight 12km Individual Time Trial (ITT) over a pan flat course in the town of Pocito.
Stage 4 features the first big mountain of the tour, halfway along the 185.8km route from San Jose Jachal to Valle Fertill. The peloton will ascend one category three and two category one climbs as they make their way to the summit 1,510m above sea level.
The remainder of the race is a downhill charge to the line – with over 80km of near-constant descending.
Stage 5 features another summit finish atop the iconic Alto Colorado, standing 2,565m above sea level. Before the peloton reaches its destination it will have to ascend one category three and two category two climbs on a punishing route that involves well over 2,200m of climbing.
Stage 6 will be a welcome sight for the sprinters after two days in the mountains. The 153.5km route is all but flat, starting and finishing in the Autodromo Villicum where the fast men will battle for the sprint points title.
The peloton returns to San Juan for the seventh and final stage; a nine lap, 141.3km criterium in the centre of town that will provide fans with an exciting and action packed spectacle to end the tour.
The team will be guided through the Vuelta a San Juan by Swiss sports director Simone Pedrazzini.
UAE Team Emirates got their 2019 UCI World Tour season off to a flying start by winning the team classification at the Tour Down Under.
The seven-stage race in Australia, which ended on Sunday, awards the team competition title to the team with the best combined time after each stage.
Diego Ulissi led the way for the victorious UAE team in the General Classification, finishing ninth overall, 40 seconds behind winner Daryl Impey of South Africa.
Tadej Pogacar was next best-placed for the Emirati formation, finishing 13th, with Jan Polanc in 17th.
As well as their successful team finish, UAE Team Emirates enjoyed a stage win with Jasper Philipsen clinching stage 5 after a sprint finish into Strathalbyn.
“It was a beautiful result for UAE Team Emirates. To get on the podium as the best team in the first World Tour race of the year is amazing,” said sports director Neil Stephens.
“Today we achieved more goals that we were after. We wanted to take the team classification but to try to be in the best possible spots in the individual classification.
“We achieved that considering that we have three riders in the top 15 of the classification, with Ulissi in the top 10.”
UAE Team Emirates will next be in World Tour action at the inaugural UAE Tour which gets underway in Abu Dhabi on February 24.