Poland’s Rafal Majka will add great balance to the UAE Team Emirates' challenge in the hill stages. Image Credit: AP

Dubai: 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Rafal Majka will be a UAE Team Emirates rider for the next two seasons.

The climber from Krakow, Poland, who clinched a bronze medal in the road race at the Rio de Janeiro Games, has been drafted in as the latest member of UAE Team Emirates to add strength on the hills to the squad led by Mauro Gianetti.

“With Rafal, our group of climbers is getting a strong boost,” Team Principal Gianetti admitted. “We are sure that in addition to being a solid wing-man for Tadej Pogacar, he will also be able to target his personal ambitions and be given some freedom within the set-up,” he added.

The 31-year-old Majka was thrilled to have a fresh opportunity in his fledgling career. “I am very happy to have been given this opportunity at this point in my career. I will work for Pogačar when necessary, but I will also try to carve out chances for myself when I can,” he said.

“Races like Tirreno-Adriatico, the Tour de Suisse and also the Vuelta a Espana are the events where I usually find good form. In that sense I’m not your typical Polish rider – I love the heat. A dream result would be a world championships medal to add to the Olympic one,” he added.

Currently riding for UCI WorldTeam Bora-Hansgrohe, Majka is known as a strong climber who rose to prominence at the 2013 Giro d’Italia where he finished seventh overall, and sixth the following year.

Majka’s other major achievements are three mountainous stage wins in the Tour de France as we well as the Mountains classification in the 2014 and 2016 editions, two stages and the overall victory at the 2014 Tour de Pologne. He achieved his first Grand Tour podium finish when he stood third at the 2015 Vuelta a Espana.

Meanwhile, after tasting success at the Tour of Flanders in 2015 and finishing third in 2019, UAE Team Emirates’ Scandinavian sprinter Alexander Kristoff once again demonstrated his strength when it comes to racing the ‘Ronde’, late on Monday.

The 33-year-old Norwegian won the sprint from the group of favourites at the finish line, after the duo of Mathieu Van Der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) and Wout van Aert (Team Jumbo-Visma) respectively, for yet another success this season.

The pair had been part of a three-man break with world champion Julian Alaphilippe until the Frenchman crashed after clipping a race organisation motorbike with 35km remaining. Kristoff timed his sprint to perfection in the final metres and claimed the final place on the podium, just like last year.

“It was a good day and I’m happy to have made the podium. I had to do a very long sprint due to Asgreen’s attack, but still managed to hold-off Turgis and Lampaert. The front two had another gear today, they were the strongest. This is my favourite race and I’ve managed to get a lot of great results here over the years,” Kristoff said.”

“I have been in the front in Flanders several times before and you can take advantage of the slipstream of the many motorcycles around you. They would’ve had to have watched each other a lot more and played cat and mouse in the finale if we were to come back. They were the strongest on paper and they proved to be the strongest on the road today too,” he added.

Tour of Flanders Results: 1. Matthieu Van Der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) 5:43.17; 2. Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) s.t.; 3. Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) s.t.