UAE Team Emirates' Tadej Pogacar (right) will renew his rivalry with Team Jumbo–Visma's Jonas Vingegaard during the 111th edition of the Tour de France, to begin later this month. Image Credit: Reuters file

Dubai: Two-time winner Tadej Pogacar heads a strong eight-member UAE Team Emirates in 111th edition of Tour de France, to begin in Italian city of Florence on June 29 and the final on July 21.

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The team heads into the 21 stages with a mix of climbers and rouleurs to support the Slovenian. The 25-year-old, who most recently won the Giro D’Italia in May, will face challenges along the 3,492-km course, which begins in Florence with a 206km road stage to Rimini before moving west entering France through the Alps after passing through cities like Bologna and Torino. The race will conclude in Nice on July 21, with a move away from the traditional finish in Paris.

Perfect preparation

”It’s already my fifth time coming to the Tour, and I’m really excited about it. We’ve worked really hard all year as a team to prepare for this and we hope we can give three weeks of exciting racing,” Pogacar said. “It’s nice also to be going back to Italy for the start. Obviously, I’m coming from there with good memories of the Giro and, thankfully, I can say that preparation has gone very well since then. I took a bit of a break after Giro and then the past weeks have been fully focused on the Tour. We’ve spent a lot of time together as a group training at altitude and put in a lot of hours in the saddle. We’re in a really good place as a group and I think now we just can’t wait to get started and hope to fight for the win and put on a good show.”

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Tadej Pogacar will lead a eight-strong UAE Team Emirates, that also has Juan Ayuso, Pavel Sivakov, Marc Soler, Nils Politt, Adam Yates, Joao Almeida and Tim Wellens. Image Credit: UAE Team Emirates

The eight UAE Team Emirates riders are: Tadej Pogacar (Slovenia), Juan Ayuso (Spain), Pavel Sivakov (France), Marc Soler (Spain), Nils Politt (Germany), Adam Yates (Great Britain), Joao Almeida (Portugal) and Tim Wellens (Belgium).

Almeida's maiden foray

Sports Manager Joxean Matxin Fernandez (Spain) will lead the squad alongside Sports Directors Andrej Hauptman (Slovenia), Simone Pedrazzini (Switzerland) and Fabrizio Guidi (Italy).

“I think as a group we’re in a really good place and know what we have to do to support Tadej. We’re aiming for the win, and we know if things go our way it’s possible. So it’s just a matter of staying focused and pulling together all the way to Nice,” Yates said.

Portuguese Almeida is eager to be part of the team in his first Tour de France. “It’s my first ever Tour, which is exciting and I’m proud to be going there as part of a very strong team with big ambitions in the race. The Tour de Suisse was a nice confidence-booster and confirmation the condition is good. So we’re ready to get things going.”