Tadej Pogačar will defend his Tour de France yellow jersey this summer, UAE Team Emirates have confirmed, as they announce which of their squad members will headline each Grand Tour this season.
Twenty-two-year-old Pogačar will then go on to tackle the 2021 Vuelta a España, the Spanish stage race being where he made his Grand Tour debut, catching the attention of the cycling world as he won three stages and finished third overall.
Pogačar will be supported by new signing Marc Hirschi, another young rider who took the 2020 Tour de France by storm, attacking at almost every opportunity and eventually taking the stage 12 victory for his efforts.
Alexander Kristoff will also line up for his ninth Tour, having won his fourth stage last year on stage one, providing a neat bookend of yellow jerseys for UAE Team Emirates.
Former Italian champion Davide Formolo will head to the Giro d’Italia, accompanied by the talented young American Brandon McNulty and Colombian sprinter Fernando Gaviria. McNulty finished 15th overall at the 2020 Giro, his debut Grand Tour, coming close to a stage win on two occasions, finishing second behind Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) on stage 10, before a third place in the individual time trial on stage 14.
Alongside Pogačar at the Vuelta will be David De La Cruz, as well as new recruit Matteo Trentin, who has joined from Mitchelton-Scott. UAE Team Emirates say the full line-ups for each Grand Tour will become clearer as the season progresses.
In between the Tour and the Vuelta, Pogačar will ride the road race at the Tokyo Olympic Games. In preparation for the Tour de France, he will begin his season at the UAE Tour before heading to Italy for Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico. Then, it’s the Tour of the Basque Country, Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and finally the Critérium du Dauphiné.
It’s been an eventful start to 2021 for the team, with Diego Ulissi set to undergo an “in-depth electrical mapping of his heart” in order to try and remove the arrhythmias (a problem with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat) that was found during a routine medical evaluation.
Meanwhile, 59 riders and staff received a coronavirus vaccination at the start of January in the UAE.
27 riders and 32 staff members received China’s Sinopharm CNBG vaccine, which has been approved by the UAE Ministry of Health & Prevention.