History was made for the UAE on Sunday, as 20-year-old Tadej Pogacar stepped onto the Vuelta a Espana podium and proudly displayed the country’s flag on his jersey as he celebrated a landmark third place finish at one of the biggest bike races in the world.
As he raised his hands in triumph, he became the first rider in UAE Team Emirates colours to ever grace the podium steps of a Grand Tour.
Fellow Slovenian Primoz Roglic secured Vuelta victory to become his country’s first Grand Tour winner.
Roglic was confirmed as champion after completing the largely-ceremonial final stage from Fuenlabrada to Madrid.
The 29-year-old Jumbo-Visma rider ended up two minutes and 16 seconds ahead of Spanish veteran Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) in the general classification, with Pogacar third.
Pogacar’s remarkable performance during the 21-day tour of Spain will also be remembered for his three spectacular stage wins, along with his winning of the coveted white jersey, which is given to the best young rider in the race.
His achievements marked the first Grand Tour podium for UAE Team Emirates since its inception in 2017 and took the team’s tally of Grand Tour stage victories to eight. Four of these have been won at La Vuelta, two at the Giro d’Italia and two at the Tour de France.
Pogacar said: “These last three weeks have been incredible. The whole of UAE Team Emirates has supported me really well to get to this point and I owe a lot of thanks to them.
History was made for #UAETeamEmirates 🇦🇪 today, as @tadejpogacar 🇸🇮 stepped onto the #LaVueta19 podium to celebrate a landmark third place finish at one of the biggest bike races in the world.— @UAE-TeamEmirates (@TeamUAEAbuDhabi) September 15, 2019
📝Full report with quotes: https://t.co/1HFPZqb0Yn#RideTogether #YearofTolerance pic.twitter.com/6159dFElBb
“To finish on the podium in the Vuelta is unbelievable and to be able to do it next to the world champion and Primoz Roglic is even more amazing.
“A lot of friends and family have come from home to see me in Madrid so for me this day was the perfect end to an amazing three weeks for me and for the team.”
Matar Al Dhaheri, president of UAE Team Emirates, praised the team, saying: “Today was a very special day. It is the culmination of a lot of hard work and self-belief.
“Since we started the team – with amazing support from the UAE and our sponsors – it has been our goal to become the best team in professional cycling. Today we took another very big step towards that goal and I am immensely proud of what we have achieved.
“Tadej Pogacar has been a revelation for us. As we look to the future it is important to invest in young riders that can not only win races, but can inspire young people in the UAE to get behind the team and get into cycling themselves. That is our goal.”
Mauro Gianetti, the team’s CEO, added: “Pogacar is an unbelievable talent and has proved he is a superstar in the making, but we must not forget that cycling is a team sport.
“We could not have achieved these victories without the commitment and contribution of all the riders, sports directors, backroom staff, family members and friends that have supported the team all season.”
The Emirati formation, which is named after its two co-title sponsors – the UAE and Emirates airlines – has now established itself as one of the most formidable teams on the WorldTour with 26 wins under its belt already this season.
In addition to the one day wins, stage successes and GC glory, UAE Team Emirates was also able to hold the pink ‘Maglia Rosa’ leaders jersey for 10 days during the first Grand Tour of the season – the Giro.
Know more about Sport360 Application