Team UAE Emirates' Tadej Pogacar on the Vuelta podium. Image Credit: Organisers

Madrid: 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 colours to ever grace the podium steps in a Grand Tour.

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.

Primoz Roglic became the first Slovenian to win a Grand Tour when he was crowned champion by completing Sunday’s processional final stage into Madrid. Roglic, 29, successfully defended his sizeable lead over second-placed Alejandro Valverde.

Pogacar’s achievements marked the first Grand Tour podium for UAE Team Emirates since their inception in 2017 and took the team’s tally of Grand Tour stage victories to eight. Four of these have been won at 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 have supported me really well to get to this point and I owe a lot of thanks to them. To finish on the podium in Vuelta is unbelievable. 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.