Less than a week after the Tour de France ended, two of the team’s biggest names will be back in action for UAE Team Emirates at the Clasica San Sebastian (August 3).
Both Dan Martin and Rui Costa will lead a team of seven as they take on one of the hilliest one-day races on the UCI WorldTour calendar. With seven categorised climbs along its 227.3km route, the Spanish classic will test the legs of even the most battle-hardened rider.
The team supporting Martin and Costa mixes experience and youth, and includes up and coming Slovenian talent, Tadej Pogacar. After a string of impressive performances, which have included winning the youth classification at the Tour of the Algarve, the Tour of the Basque and the Tour of Slovenia – as well as the yellow winner’s jersey at the Amgen Tour of California – Pogacar will be an outside favourite on this demanding parcours.
Pogacar said: “San Sebastian will be my first race after a training block, I’m coming back to racing feeling confident and ready to test myself against top competition, which we will no doubt be up against.
“I have worked hard over the past weeks, and I’m eager to see if this race will suit me well.”
The team will be guided by sports directors Joxean Matxin and Neil Stephens.
UAE squad: Rui Costa (Portugal), Daniel Martin (Ireland), Juan Sebastian Molano (Colombia), Tadej Pogacar, Jan Polanc (both Slovenia), Aleksandr Riabushenko (Belarus), Rory Sutherland (Australia)
The second of this year’s Grand Tours – the Tour de France – may have ended, but the racing season is still very much alive for UAE Team Emirates as they send a squad packed full of exciting Italian talent to back up their star sprinter Fernando Gaviria at the Tour of Poland (August 3-9).
Gaviria returns to racing after a prolonged absence due to a knee problem and will be looking for success in the sprint finishes, along with Diego Ulissi who is also targeting stage victories.
The team will be guided across the seven stage tour by Sports Directors Marco Marzano and Bruno Vicino.
Gaviria said: “The Tour de Poland will be a significant event for me, since it will mark the return to racing after the forced stop due to knee problems.
“I’m looking forward to savouring the atmosphere of the race and I’m curious to see what level I can sustain having recently done a block at altitude.”
Ulissi added: “Taking part in the Tour de Pologne is always a pleasure and it’s a race that motivates me. I’m going here with the goal of fighting for a stage win. The route this year will be particularly challenging, to be in with a shot we will need to be consistent everyday.”
UAE squad: Fernando Gaviria (Colombia), Diego Ulissi, Simone Consonni, Valerio Conti, Manuele Mori, Simone Petilli, Edward Ravasi (all Italy)
Sir Dave Brailsford’s seventh win in the last eight editions of the Tour de France felt all the sweeter given he began the season wondering if it might be his last.
On Sunday, Egan Bernal became the first Colombian to win the Tour, continuing the run of success Brailsford has enjoyed both as Team Sky and now Team Ineos principal – albeit this time with a different accent as Bernal became the team’s first non-British winner.
When Sky announced in December they would pull their funding for the team at the end of the 2019 season, Brailsford considered walking away from the sport.
Instead, new backing arrived from Britain’s richest man, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, with the team relaunched as Ineos in May.
“There were obvious questions about whether we would find a new owner, and whether the timescale would allow us to prepare another challenge to win the Tour,” Brailsford said.
“I resolved to give it our best shot, and switching the team from Sky to Ineos midway through the season was a huge undertaking.
“Three months later, here we are with another yellow jersey.”
Ratcliffe’s takeover was not universally popular, with environmental protestors turning up at the Tour de Yorkshire to voice opposition to his company’s fracking operations. It was yet another controversy for Brailsford to face.
In March last year, a Parliamentary committee concluded that Team Sky had crossed an “ethical line” in their use of permitted medications in order to enhance performance.
Brailsford said that had an impact on him at last year’s Tour, in which Geraint Thomas delivered a popular victory which went a long way in boosting the team’s image after a damaging period.
“During the Tour last year, I was angry,” Brailsford said. “I felt like I was in a fight the whole time. I was stewing.
“Maybe age helps but this year I’ve felt a lot calmer. I don’t feel any less competitive but I’ve been a bit more measured and I’ve stopped fighting everybody.”
If Thomas’ victory proved popular, particularly with the team’s British base, 22-year-old’s Bernal triumph could have an even bigger impact around the world.
Cycling-mad Colombia has been waiting for decades to celebrate a Tour victory, and the scenes around the Ineos bus in the Place de la Concorde on Sunday night showed the outpouring of emotion.
Fans were massed along the pavements singing and shouting late into the night, hailing the youngest winner of the Tour since 1909.
Brailsford has spent plenty of time in Colombia and has a track record of signing some of their brightest prospects, with the 21-year-old Ivan Sosa the next potential star in the ranks.
“We’ve had Colombians in the team pretty much all the time, from Sergio Henao to Rigoberto Uran and Egan,” he said. “I’ve maintained a very close working relationship with the Colombians as a cycling nation. For them, this will be seismic.”