UAE Team Emirates have blended youth and experience for the upcoming Tour of Slovenia (June 19-23), with Slovenian time trial champion Tadej Pogacar leading the team’s General Classification (GC) hopes on home soil.
The youngster, 20, who is having an impressive debut season for UAE Team Emirates, will be supported by fellow Slovenian Jan Polanc, as well as Portugal youngster Rui Oliveira and Italian trio Simone Consonni, Marco Marcato and Diego Ulissi.
Commenting ahead of the race, Pogacar said: “My goal is to continue to race at the same level I have since the start of the season. I am really motivated and aim to do my best.
“The Tour of Slovenia will offer three particularly challenging stages, I fancy them but I know that the competition will be high and will make for an intense race.”
Ulissi added: “I have participated in five editions of the Tour of Slovenia, winning the GC in my debut. I am pleased to return to this race after two years of absence.
“I’m coming here in good condition, so for the five days of competition I will try to help Pogacar and Polanc whilst still trying to take my own chances for a stage win.”
Chris Froome seems certain not to race again this season but could end it with a seventh Grand Tour title all the same.
As the Team Ineos rider awoke following a six-hour operation to treat multiple fractures suffered in a horror crash, news broke that 2011 Vuelta a Espana winner Juan Jose Cobo has been found guilty of a doping offence and stands to lose his title.
That could elevate Froome to a second Vuelta win, and make him the first British Grand Tour winner, some 10 months before Sir Bradley Wiggins won the 2012 Tour de France.
Not that Froome is currently in any state to celebrate. The 34-year-old underwent lengthy surgery after suffering a broken femur and broken ribs in a high-speed crash during his reconnaissance of stage four of the Criterium du Dauphine on Wednesday morning.
He remains in intensive care in hospital in St Etienne, where he has been joined by his wife Michelle and Team Ineos doctor Richard Usher, and he is expected to remain there for at least two further days.
Ineos team principal Sir Dave Brailsford said Froome was being looked after in “exemplary fashion” but that it is too soon to put any sort of timetable on his rehabilitation programme.
“First things first,” he said. “For now, let’s just concentrate on today and getting him through today, and then tomorrow et cetera and see how this situation develops from there.
“The first thing in all these situations is to get that first stabilisation, that first phase of medical surgery done really and then go into the recovery process.”
In a statement, Dr Usher said Froome had already discussed a rehabilitation programme after waking up following the operation.
“Chris will remain in hospital for the next few days for observation, but he is already actively engaging in discussing his rehabilitation options, which is very encouraging,” the statement said.
Froome was riding the Dauphine during the final stages of his preparation for the Tour, where he was looking for a record-equalling fifth victory.
Such a target must now wait and, given Froome’s age, looks a much taller order. Only one rider has ever won the Tour over the age of 35, and Firmin Lambot’s victory aged 36 came almost a century ago in 1922.
However, Froome appears likely to end the year with a seventh Grand Tour win all the same with Cobo facing a fight to retain his 2011 Vuelta crown.
A statement from the UCI said the 38-year-old Spaniard, who retired in 2014, had been found “guilty of an anti-doping violation (Use of a prohibited substance) based on abnormalities from 2009 and 2011 detected in his Biological Passport” and ruled ineligible for a period of three years.
Cobo, riding for Geox-TMC, beat Froome by 13 seconds, with fellow Team Sky rider Sir Bradley Wiggins third, one minute and 39 seconds down.
Cobo has 30 days in which he can lodge an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
If awarded the title, Froome will add it to a collection which includes his Tour de France wins in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017, his Vuelta win in 2017, and the 2018 Giro d’Italia title.
A spokesperson for La Vuelta told Press Association Sport organisers were awaiting the full ruling from the UCI before making a statement.
Provided by Press Association Sport
UAE Team Emirates star Alexander Kristoff raised his arms in triumph after clinching victory at the GP Canton d’Argovie Gippingen.
The Norwegian won in his comeback to racing after injury, beating Andrea Pasqualon in a rapid sprint finish.
The 31-year-old had already sealed victory in the GP Canton d’Argovie Gippingen, winning in 2015 and 2018. With Thursday’s success, the Stavanger native registers his fifth win of the year, while pushing UAE Team Emirates’ win tally to 19 this season.
Kristoff said: “Today I felt good and I wanted to repay the good work done by the team to control the breakaway.
“I am very happy with the win, and look forward to benefitting from the hard work of my teammates for more opportunities at the Tour du Suisse.”