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UAE Tour: UAE Team Emirates star Pogačar aims to protect his bastion

Two-time Tour de France champion Tadej Pogačar of UAE Team Emirates (third from left) holds aloft the UAE Tour trophy. — Supplied photo
Two-time Tour de France champion Tadej Pogačar of UAE Team Emirates (third from left) holds aloft the UAE Tour trophy. — Supplied photo

Dubai - The Slovenian will be looking to embark on a successful title defence of the only UCI World Tour race in the Middle East, on home soil



by

James Jose

Published: Sat 19 Feb 2022, 9:04 PM

Two-time Tour de France champion Tadej Pogačar of UAE Team Emirates will be eager to protect his bastion when the fourth edition of the prestigious UAE Tour commences from Sunday.

The Slovenian will be looking to embark on a successful title defence of the only UCI World Tour race in the Middle East, on home soil. Twenty top teams — 17 UCI World Teams and three UCI Pro Teams will take to the start line of the race, which consists of seven stages.

Riders will compete for the race’s Red, Green, White and Black jerseys across the race which consists of four sprint stages, two mountain stages, and a nine-km long individual time trial.

And Pogačar, who finished second overall before his title triumph last year, will be looking to fend off the challenge from his rivals.

“It means a lot to me to have won this race last year, as I’m riding for the UAE team. Every year, I see more people cycling here. I’ll try to win the title again,” Pogačar said on the eve of the race.

But he comes into the race, probably not in the best of shape after his preparations were affected by a Covid infection. Nonetheless, the 23-year-old, the poster boy of UAE Team Emirates, said he will go all out to ensure the title remains at home.

“My winter was really good. I went to Sierra Nevada in Spain where I unfortunately got Covid but it was not serious. I just had four days off the bike, so I’m prepared for the first race,” he added.

UAE Team Emirates have named a seven-man squad with Pogačar leading the line for the general classification and also includes sprinter Fernando Gaviria, who had a stage victory at the recently concluded Tour of Oman.

“We also have Pascal Ackermann for the sprints, Mikkel Bjerg for the TT, and a real composed team for GC with Rafal Majka and George Bennett as well. We’ll try to do our best every day,” Pogačar further said.

Standing in Pogačar way would be Tom Dumoulin of Jumbo-Visma, INEOS Grenadiers’ Adam Yates, Romain Bardet of Team DSM and Jai Hindley of BORA-Hansgrohe, among many others.

“I’ve got good memories from the UAE Tour,” said Dumoulin.

“I’ve been here three times if we include the Abu Dhabi Tour. This race has a bit of everything: sprints, wind, TT, uphill, everything you need to be a GC rider! For GC, we’re aiming at doing well with me or Chris Harper,” added Dumoulin, who won the 100th Giro d’Italia in 2017. He had finished sixth in the first race when the Abu Dhabi and the Dubai Tour were merged to give birth to the UAE Tour.

STAGES:

Stage 1: Al Ain Water Stage – Madinat Zayed – Madinat Zayed (185km)

Stage 2: International Holding Company Stage – Hudayriyat Island – Abu Dhabi Breakwater (173km)

Stage 3: G42 Stage presented by Tissot – Ajman ITT (9km)

Stage 4: Burjeel Medical City Stage – Fujairah Fort – Jebel Jais (181km)

Stage 5: Marjan Stage – Ras al Khaimah Corniche – Al Marjan Island (182km)

Stage 6: Expo 2020 Dubai Stage – Expo 2020 Dubai – Expo 2020 Dubai (180km)

Stage 7: Mubadala Stage – Al Ain – Jebel Hafeet (148km)

JERSEYS:

Red Jersey: General Classification

Green Jersey: Points Classification

White Jersey: Young Rider Classification

Black Jersey: Intermediate Sprint Classification


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