Tadej Pogacar: "UAE Team Emirates are getting stronger and stronger every year"

UAE Team Emirates have had a strong team this year, however with no real blocks built around any leader. They are looking to change that, to match the likes of Jumbo-Visma and other top teams, and Tadej Pogacar is satisfied with the signings the team has done over the winter.

"We’ve got some great new teammates for 2023. UAE Team Emirates are getting stronger and stronger every year," Pogacar said in a recent interview with Cyclingnews. "I’m looking forward to spending time with the new guys, training together, racing together in the early season and then targeting the main goals together. I’m enthusiastic about next season."

Inbetween the signings for 2023 are Adam Yates and Jay Vine, two of the strongest pure climbers in the peloton, who should both have their freedom on certain points, but overall build a stronger mountain team, that will also assure that more resources will be available for Pogacar's support. The signings of Felix Grossschartner and Domen Novak will further boost their capabilities.

For several years the team has had difficulties in assuring it's block in the main races. Whilst Rafal Majka and Mikkel Bjerg have cemented their place as his right-hand man, Pogacar was often isolated even this season. Although strong, the team is looking to have a block of domestiques set from the start to always provide support in both mountainous and flat stages throughout his main goals of the year.

He's managed to race with João Almeida and Juan Ayuso on occasion, but both have so far - and in 2023 will likely continue - to have their freedom in the Grand Tours. "Juan did a great Vuelta and showed he’s strong and ready to win even at just 20. I think he’s going to be a really valuable rider for the team," commented on the Spaniard.

"He can win Grand Tours in the years ahead and so we have options, which is a good thing to have. He’s not a rival; he’s a teammate." Ayuso is signed until 2028, whilst Almeida is until 2026. The trio of young riders will likely remain in the lead of the team for years to come. The addition of several climbers, alongside the likes of Brandon McNulty and Marc Soler who on occasion also thrive in the mountains, will give UAE more options than ever to fulfill their goals.

"I think it’s good we have a young generation in the sport now. We’ve had some great battles already and we’re bound to have some more great battles, in the Grand Tours and the other big races. It’s a great time for cycling. I wish I could sit on the couch and watch the battles on TV but I have to be in there fighting to win," Pogacar admitted.

On Remco Evenepoel, who he is unlikely to face in the Grand Tours in 2023, he commented: "He’s simply a good bike rider. I guess he has good genetics too. He’s very aero on the bike, has a good watts-per-kilo and then physically and mentally he’s really strong. He’s hard to beat. When we raced against each other this season, he was way better than me in one-day races, while I won Tirreno-Adriatico."

"I targeted the Tour and he targeted and won the Vuelta. I don’t know if we’ll clash in 2023 but it’ll probably be a few years before we know his true limits and ability. He’s obviously already very strong, perhaps even stronger than me," he said of the Belgian, who is set to ride the Giro d'Italia in 2023. Although it has initially been proposed, Pogacar's main goal will remain the Tour in the coming year, with his sights on recovering the yellow jersey after finishing second to Jonas Vingegaard this season.

"I never really compared myself to Merckx and so I was ready for the day when I’d finish second, even in the Tour," he continued. "Defeat happens in cycling, and a lot. It’s part of the sport and what makes winning so special. It’s given me more motivation for the next season and I'm more eager to fight back."

"We’ve only just finished the 2022 season but things move really fast in cycling these days and I’m already thinking about 2023," the Slovenian said, currently in Colombia on holidays.

"When you lose, you want to improve and come back the season after even stronger. Defeat at the Tour gives me the motivation to go back next year and win it again," he concluded.

Place comments



More comments

You are currently seeing only the comments you are notified about, if you want to see all comments from this post, click the button below.

Show all comments