UAE Team Emirates finished off a solid week at the Vuelta San Juan with victory for Fernando Gaviria on stage 7
UAE Team Emirates rider Fernando Gaviria Image Credit: Organisers

Dubai: UAE Team Emirates’ Colombian rider Fernando Gaviria is feeling confident ahead of Saturday’s Milan-San Remo, one of the most prestigious Monument Classics on the tour.

First scheduled to be held on March 21, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic ensured a new date for the race along with a new inland 299km route. With these changes, the climbs of the Cipressa and the Poggio are expected to produce yet another thrilling finale as the biggest sprinters and finishers go head-to-head to try and win one of cycling’s most prestigious Monument Classics.

On the revised UCI calendar as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, ‘La Primavera’ was rescheduled as a summer race for Saturday [August 8] with temperatures expected to be in the of 30 degree zone.

The organisers had to work out a Plan B route, opting to avoid much of Liguria and stay inland until the final 40km, just in time for the Cipressa, the Poggio and the fast descent to the finish on the Via Roma in the centre of San Remo.

And in a final twist, team sizes were reduced from seven to six riders to squeeze two Italian teams — Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec and Bardiani-CSF onto the start list.

With a stage win in Burgos last week, the Milan-San Remo organised by RCS Sport is being seen as the next big step in the development and success of the UAE-based team. “Last week was a great boost for both the team and for my confidence and shows my condition is good. We expect a bigger challenge at Milan-San Remo and the competition will be strong,” Gaviria told the team’s website.

“This is one of my favourite races and if it finishes in a sprint I know I can be one of the favourites,” he added.

The UAE Team Emirates had begun their Italian racing campaign last week with a second place from Davide Formolo, thus giving them several options heading into Milan-San Remo.

Backing Gaviria in the front will be teammates Max Richeze and Alexander Kristoff, while the young Tadej Pogacar and Davide Formolo will be on hand to cover late attacks on the famous last climb of the Poggio.

The riders to face the 300km classic — the longest of the year — will be led by team Manager Joxean Matxin Fernandez of Spain and Italian Sports Directors Marco Marzano and Manuele Mori.

The UAE-based team’s Italian calendar will further continue during the week on Wednesday with the one-day classic Gran Piemonte where the team will count on the experience of riders like Fabio Aru and Diego Ulissi. Leading the team will be Manager Joxean Matxin Fernandez while Marco Marzano and Paolo Tiralongo will step in as Sports Directors.

UAE Team Emirates squads

Milan-San Remo: Davide Formolo (Italy), Max Richeze (Argentina), Fernando Gaviria (Colombia), Tadej Pogacar (Slovenia), Alexander Kristoff (Norway), Oliviero Troia (Italy).

Gran Piemonte: Fabio Aru (Italy), Diego Ulissi (Italy), Camilo Ardila (Colombia), Alessandro Covi (Colombia), Valerio Conti (Italy), Aleksandr Riabushenko (Belgium), Edward Ravasi (Italy)