UAE Team Emirates’ Diego Ulissi will be looking to replicate his 2017 win at the GP Montreal, as he leads a seven-man squad to North America for a double bill of racing in the French Quarter of Canada.
The team will take on both the 201.6km Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec (September 13) and the 219.6km Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal (September 15), two challenging WorldTour races that are played out on street circuits around the respective host cities.
The team, which also includes Sven Erik Bystrom, Rui Costa, Dan Martin, Rui Oliveira, Jasper Philipsen and Jan Polanc will be guided by sports director Neil Stephens.
Ulissi said: “I have special memories of these races in Canada. I won in the past in Montreal, and it’s a race that you need to be switched on for from start to finish.
“For the 2019 edition, the organisers have decided to add two laps of the race circuit, bringing the total count to 18 climbs which will therefore make it even more important to arrive in Canada with a good condition and be present as a team with as many riders as possible in the final.
“The goal is to do well in these races and bring forward the condition from the Deutschland Tour.”
Stage 7 may prove to be a defining moment in the 2019 Vuelta a Espana for UAE Team Emirates as the cream of the General Classification rose to the top – with Fabio Aru and Tadej Pogacar asserting themselves as serious contenders by taking top 10 positions in the race, and the overall GC, behind stage winner Alejandro Valverde.
The 183.2km route, which started in Onda, featured five categorized climbs and finished with a punishing ascent up the Mas del la Costa. A select group of riders, including Aru and Pogacar, hit the bottom as a unit but began to splinter as the ramps pitched up to gradients in excess of 20%.
Both UAE Team Emirates riders fought their way up the climb valiantly and crossed the line together to claim 7th and 8th spots, just 51” behind the Spanish World Champion.
Their efforts also put both riders firmly into the General Classification top 10, where they now sit at 6th (Pogacar) and 10th (Aru).
Speaking to his performance, Pogacar said: “It wasn’t just the last climb that was tough, it was the whole day. It was really fast right from the start making this stage the hardest of the week. I am feeling in good shape at the moment, so we will have to wait and see about tomorrow – and then we have our rest day.”
Aru added: “I definitely felt better than the last few days but the left leg is not 100% yet. Today I had a lot of fatigue, but at the same time I did the last climb better than I expected. I hope to be back at 100% soon.”
Stage 7 also proved to be a memorable one for Sergio Henao as he climbed his way up the Mountains Classification – where he now sits in second. The race was, once again, fast and furious from the off – with multiple early breakaways being closed down by the peloton.
After 60-minutes on the road the average speed was just shy of 50km/h – but that didn’t deter Henao and a small group of companions trying and succeeding to create a gap ahead of the first categorised climb up Puerto del Marianet. Henao was the quickest over the top, picking up his first set of mountain classification points.
The trend continued as he worked with the breakaway to crest three more summits, take maximum points and jump up to his current spot.
On Saturday La Vuelta heads from Valls to Igualada for stage 8. The hilly route is just 166.9km long and with only one categorised climb along the way it will either be a day for the breakaway or one for the sprinters to contend.
Stage 7 results:
General Classification after stage 7:
After the disappointment of the high speed crash on Saturday, UAE Team Emirates came back to animate the closing kilometres of the Stage 2 arrival from Benidorm to Calpe on Sunday.
A group of four riders moved away in the early stages but would be reeled in as the peloton neared the final ascent. When the riders crested the final climb of the category 2 Alto de Pulg Llorenca (8.8 per cent) it was world champion Alejandro Valverde who forced the pace, reducing the bunch to a select group of 20 riders.
As they took the final descent former Vuelta a Espana winner Fabio Aru slipped away in a group of six riders which would build an advantage of over 30 seconds on the chasers. With the line drawing closer, Movistar’s Nairo Quintana slipped away to claim a solo win with Aru sprinting home to fifth in the group of chasers five seconds behind.
Tadej Pogacar, the youngest rider in the race, came home at the head of the second group on the road to claim eighth, 37 seconds behind Quintana.
Aru said: “This morning I woke up with pain due to the fall yesterday, especially at the beginning of the race my knee was bothering me, then as the kilometers went by the situation improved.
“Also in the coming days the aftermath of the fall will be felt, but I will face them with an excellent morale that comes from today’s good performance. In the end I had some cramps as the day was very hot. Quintana made the perfect move to take the win.”
Monday’s Stage 3 should be a day for the sprinters with just two category three climbs and it will take the riders from Ciudad del Juguete to Alicante (188km).
Stage 2 results
1 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team
2 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Sunweb
3 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma
5 Fabio Aru (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
8 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates
1 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Sunweb 5:26:12
2 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:00:02
3 Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First 0:00:08
14 Fabio Aru (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0:01:08
23 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 0:01:40