Diego Ulissi says the Team UAE Emirates has become like a ''second family" to him. Image Credit: Team UAE Emirates

Dubai: Italian Diego Ulissi has promised to give his best after extending his contract with UAE Team Emirates for another two years.

“I am very happy with this renewal. For years now I have been part of this team which has become a second family for me,” Ulissi said after the signing that will keep the rider with the Abu Dhabi-based team at least till 2022.

“I am looking forward to continuing to work together on the UAE Team Emirates project in the next few years and as always, I assure everyone that I will be giving a 100 per cent,” the Italian rider added.

In March 2020, Ulissi missed the birth of his daughter Anna after being kept under quarantine in a hotel in Abu Dhabi just before the conclusion of the 2020 UAE Tour. The Italian rider was among the first to be given a green signal to travel back to his family.

“We are working well together and the results of the last few years back this up. I want to say thank you to Mauro Gianetti (team principal) and [Joxean Fernandez] Matxin (general manager) for always believing in me and all the staff who allow me to always give my best,” Ulissi related.

Ulissi, who will turn 31 on July 15, got off to a great start this season with a second place at the Tour Down Under followed by a top-10 during the inconclusive UAE Tour, while also helping teammate Tadej Pogacar to a stage win.

His versatility and consistency has been a great asset to the team in the past few seasons and is of great value to the unit looking forward.

“Diego is a very important element in our team. He has shown an amazing consistency performing at the highest level and has proved very reliable in that regard,” Gianetti observed.

“On and off the bike, he is proving to be a good leader, which is important for the team environment and the growth of the group as a whole,” he added.

The six-time Giro d’Italia stage winner has been involved with the UAE Team Emirates project from the very beginning and is keen for the opportunity to continue his successful relationship with the team.

Born in Cecina, Ulissi won back-to-back Junior World Road Race Championships in 2006 and 2007, becoming only the second cyclist ever, after Giuseppe Palumbo, to achieve this feat. 2019 was a successful season after the Italian went on to win the Tour of Slovenia, the Gran Premio di Lugano race and the one-off Tokyo 2020 Test event.