Mauro Gianetti, UAE Team Emirates CEO and Board Member. Image Credit: Alaric Gomes/Gulf News

Dubai: The boss of UAE Team Emirates has promised to continue their push towards youth as they brace for a much better showing heading into the next cycling season.

Mauro Gianetti, CEO and Board Member of UAE Team Emirates, who undertook a series of community engagements with his squad of 30 riders in Abu Dhabi and Dubai this week, believes that the team is headed in the right direction.

UAE Team Emirates won a total of 100 podium finishes in the season gone by, including 19 stage wins, three one-day races, four overall victories and three National Championships to cap off their best season so far. Leading the way was Slovenian Tadej Pogacar — who turned 21 earlier this year — as the team showed a vast improvement from their 13th position last season to an impressive fourth place in the world teams’s classifications.

“Starting from 2020, the focus is on long-term goals where we look at building our future around this mix of youngsters such as US rider [Brandon] McNulty, Danish three-time under-23 men’s individual time trial world champion [Mikkel] Bjerg, Italian [Alessandro] Covi, Colombian [Andres] Ardilas along with Philipsen and Pogocar,” Gianetti told Gulf News earlier this week.

“With 2020 being the Olympic year, we are hopeful that many of our riders, especially the younger ones will make it to their national teams and do well there. Such a thing would be lovely as this would not only boost their confidence but also pass on some of it to the team,” he added.

Heading into 2020, UAE Team Emirates has had a promising start with Italian rider Diego Ulissi winning the pre-Olympic test event held in Tokyo in the second half of July. “For me, that is a good omen as many young talents are looking towards long-term goals. We are very motivated with Ulissi’s performance as I expect quite a few of our team riders to be in their national squads in Tokyo next year, Gianetti admitted.

Though the focus will be on the younger lot, Gianetti has no intentions of ignoring the elder statesmen in the line-up such as Alexander Kristoff, Fabio Aru, Marco Marcato, Dan Martin, Diego Ulissi, Rory Sutherland, among others. “The experience and results of the senior riders is so important for us as we want the new generation to look up to them. They are not just champions, but they are great men as well. They are the teachers and we need this balance within the outfit. The final focus will always be to find this balance between youth and yet rely on our collective experience,” he added.

“No doubt, cycling is an individual sport but the essence is the team and the spirit surrounding it starting with the sports director, the trainer, the mechanics and the other staff who have to all contribute in the success. Ours is not a job, but a life and a lifestyle where we do all things together as a family,” he added.