"It is nice to ride for a team that wants to win always and everywhere" - Tim Wellens ready to fully give in for Juan Ayuso at Dauphiné

UAE Team Emirates build their Tour de France around Tadej Pogacar - as much is clear. But the 8-man lineup is loaded with riders who could become leaders themselves in case there's an unexpected turn of events. Juan Ayuso is one of these 'shadow leaders'. The Spaniard definitely has what's needed to aim for a podium at Grande Boucle.

But before that, there is Critérium du Dauphiné for Ayuso, his one chance to show his team that it would be unwise to not keep the 21-year-old around in the GC for as long as possible. After all the team can afford to play the card of two leaders with never seen before firepower in the mountains - a list that includes third places from 2023 Giro (Joao Almeida) and '23 Vuelta (Adam Yates). And Pavel Sivakov with Marc Soler are formidable climbers as well.

Ayuso's goal at Dauphiné is clear - to win the general classification. "Our ambition is to win the final classification with Ayuso," the 'engine' of UAE's Tour dream team Tim Wellens does not hide the team ambitions in conversation with Het Nieuwsblad. "I think the Spaniard has a great chance, so I will try to help him as much as possible."

But Wellens recognizes it won't be a walk in the park against the likes of Primoz Roglic, Remco Evenepoel or Ayuso's compatriot Carlos Rodríguez. "Although both the course and the competition are proving to be very tough this year," Wellens is ready for the sporting challenge. "Dauphiné is actually a mini Tour de France, but without flat stages. I am pleased that we can start with a clear goal in mind."

"I was recently talking about it with Pavel Sivakov in Sierra Nevada. He spoke about his time at INEOS Grenadiers and how nice it is to ride for a team that wants to win always and everywhere. You ride at the front with the entire team, which makes racing safer and more enjoyable. You command respect and therefore also your own happiness."

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