UAE Team Emirates Youth Academy rolls out phase two of its youth cycling initiative

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Following the success of academies run across Dubai and Abu Dhabi over the past 12 months, the UAE Team Emirates Youth Academy has announced plans to initiate phase two of the cycling initiative.

The academy is set to roll out in three different schools across Abu Dhabi – Al Rabeeh School, Sheikh Zayed Private Academy for Boys and ADNOC Sas Al Nakhl – throughout the months of April and May.

The sessions will see over 50 hours of coaching delivered by qualified cycling instructors to more than 300 youngsters between the age of 8-11, focusing on key elements of fitness, bike handling and technique.

The academy will culminate in a cycling showcase in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, May 4.

The latest announcement reiterates the team’s ambition to encourage the next generation of UAE cyclists. It also follows a largely successful trial run of the academy at Aldar Academies Al Yasmina School in October, where over 100 youngsters aged 5-15 participated in a clinic and had the chance to meet the team’s star riders including UAE national champion, Yousif Mirza, and 2018 Tour de France stage winners Alexander Kristoff and Dan Martin.

Commenting on the youth academy, team president Matar Al Dhaheri, said: “The UAE Team Emirates Youth Academy has already impacted the lives of hundreds of youngsters across the Emirates and we are thrilled to be able to build on the foundations we’ve created over the past 12 months.

“With the right programme and delivery, we truly believe that the UAE Team Emirates Youth Academy has the potential to be the bedrock of youth cycling in the UAE.”

The sessions will be tailored to each child’s individual needs, while improving their all-round cycling ability. Some youngsters will also have the opportunity to learn from Emirati rider Mirza.

He became the first ever cyclist to represent the UAE at the Olympic Games and has achieved recent success with the UAE national team, picking up a stage victory at the Tour of Egypt.

The Emirati star will offer advice and guidance to the youngsters and share his success story in the hope of inspiring them to take up cycling.

The first session of the three-week initiative started at Al Rabeeh School on Tuesday, April 15. Phil Yates, assistant head teacher at Al Rabeeh, said: “We are very excited to welcome the UAE Team Emirates Youth Academy to our school; this offers a brilliant opportunity for our students to take their interest in cycling to the next level, under the guidance of professional trainers fully committed to advancing our student’s skillset.

“We also believe that regular exercise can have an extremely positive impact on the physiological and psychological health of our students, so look forward to welcoming the academy over the coming weeks.”

Al Dhaheri added: “The UAE Team Emirates Youth Academy is aligned with the government’s health and wellness objectives in that we are striving to instil a sense of healthy living in our future generation and encourage them to lead more active lifestyles.

“With new cycle lanes and tracks being developed at a rapid rate, the opportunities for cyclists are endless. While UAE Team Emirates plays a fundamental and aspirational role for any young cyclist, the UAE Team Emirates Youth Academy can be the start of an amazing journey that could potentially results in a future at the top of the sport.”

The UAE Team Emirates Youth Academy will visit schools on the following dates:

Al Rabeeh School (April 23 & 30); Sheikh Zayed Private Academy for Boys (April 17, 24 & May 1); ADNOC Sas Al Nakhl (April 18, 25 & May 2).

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UAE Team Emirates prepare for the ultimate one-day test – Paris-Roubaix

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Alexander Kristoff.

UAE Team Emirates’ preparations are underway for what is arguably the most famous and toughest one-day race of the UCI WorldTour calendar – the Paris-Roubaix on April 14.

The line-up is led by the in-form Alexander Kristoff, who picked up a race victory at Gent-Wevelgem and a podium finish at the Tour of Flanders. He will be joined by Colombian sprinter Fernando Gaviria, who makes his Paris-Roubaix debut following his recent outings at the Belgian Classics. The pair are joined by Jasper Philipsen, Marco Marcato, Tom Bohli, Sven Erik Bystrom and Norwegian National Champion, Vegard Stake Laengen.

The race is dubbed a ‘Sunday in Hell’ or ‘The Hell of the North’ – and the 257km route is just that. While the opening 95km doesn’t throw up too many obstacles for the peloton, it’s the second half of the race where the action really begins.

At 96.5km, riders encounter the first of 29 cobbled sections of the course, and it’s here where they will begin to fight the elements; bumpy cobbles, dusty roads and narrow streets all have potential to wreak havoc.

In total, there’s over 54km of cobbled roads, with three significantly bumpy sections given a five-star rating for difficulty. These sections will undoubtedly pull the group apart as they make their way towards the finish in Roubaix. History shows that a bunched sprint finish is highly unlikely, but a thrilling battle between a small group of riders should be on the cards, played out in front of the thousands of spectators that pack into the world-famous Roubaix Velodrome to witness the final metres of the races.

Commenting ahead of the race, UAE Team Emirates’ General Manager Joxean Matxin said: “Considering the good run of our cyclists, we can look towards Paris-Roubaix with optimism. Our wish is to close the northern classics campaign with a significant result. Alexander Kristoff will captain our team. He has been very effective so far and wants to set the record straight in Paris-Roubaix after a fall last year. We will have riders at his side to offer a great contribution and Fernando Gaviria who, despite debuting in the race, has the necessary talent to go strongly.”

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Alexander Kristoff takes third for UAE Team Emirates at Tour of Flanders

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Alexander Kristoff once again showed his strength in the Classics as he fought his way to a third place finish at the Tour of Flanders.

The Norwegian powerhouse, who won the Tour of Flanders in 2015, was able to make the front chasing group of 15 as they attempted to bring back the solo breakaway man – Alberto Bettiol (EF Education First) – who made an attack in the third and final pass of the Oude Kwaremont with 18km to go and eventually won the race.

In the final few kilometres Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-Quick Step) was able to attack off the front for second place, with Kristoff outsprinting the bunch to take a well-deserved third place, 17 seconds behind Bettiol.

Sven Erik Bystrom and Fernando Gaviria rode in the leading group until the final 20km, before the pace and parcours became too challenging for them to remain at the front of the race. Jasper Philipsen crashed mid-race and while he was able to continue, he later retired and did not finish.

Kristoff said: “It could seem that the race was very tactical but, as far as I’m concerned, it was a race that was always pushed to the limit. I came to the foot of the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg for the last time with very tired legs and I was a bit surprised to see that I was able to stay with the main group.

“It was then that I realised they were all very tired too. The situation worked better than I could have imagined and I tried to take advantage of it. The result makes me happy. I have a good shape, I have high morale after these races, I can count on a team that is racing well and I hope that these conditions will recur in a week in Paris-Roubaix.”

Kristoff’s performance delivered the third podium finish for UAE Team Emirates in a Belgian WorldTour race in 2019. It adds to his win at Gent-Wevelgem and the second place for Gaviria at Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne.

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