Dubai: UAE Team Emirates rider Tadej Pogacar is banking on staying calm as the storm of his Tour de France debut approaches on Saturday.
The young Slovenian rider will spearhead the UAE Team Emirates’ challenge alongside the experienced Fabio Aru at this year’s 107th edition of the major cycle race that gets under way in Nice from Saturday.
UAE Team Emirates have named an eight-member team for the three-week race covering a distance of 3,470km over 21 stages for its traditional finish at the Avenue des Champs-Elysee in Paris on September 20.
Originally scheduled to start on June 27, the Tour de France was postponed until the end of this month due to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic in France, and Pogacar cannot wait to lead the campaign on behalf of UAE Team Emirates.
“The idea is to stay calm throughout and see how things go one day at a time. In the end, we all believe that everything is possible,” Pogacar told Gulf News.
“I am not feeling the pressure because I am confident of my ability. Every stage is important and we need to be prepared.”
UAE Team Emirates are one of the outfits to impress following the restart of the cycling season in the process claiming 18 victories this year alone. Hopeful of building on that early success, the Abu Dhabi-based team has called in the youth of debutant Pogacar along with the experience of Aru.
“I think things become easier when we consider that there is always a great team to support me. There is great staff, great management and some super riders, and this is a combination that can seldom go wrong,” the 21-year-old Pogacar said.
Aru comes into the race with growing form and with a previous win at the Tour to his name, while Pogacar will head in with confidence after a strong showing in his Grand Tour debut in 2019 at the Vuelta Espana where he won three stages to finish third overall.
The pair will be supported in the hills by the experienced climbing trio of Davide Formolo, Jan Polanc and David De La Cruz. Kristoff will look for opportunities in the sprints, while road captain Marco Marcato and Vegard Stake Laengen will prove vital on the flatter roads.
“The time trial looks to be the hardest I have ever seen and riders will lose time there,” Pogacar said.
The 2020 Tour de France is expected to consist of 22 teams with all 19 UCI World Teams entitled and obliged to enter the race, while additionally, another three teams have been invited by tour organisers, Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO).
The Grand Depart will take place in and around the coastal Mediterranean city of Nice beginning a 156km road stage on Saturday followed by a 190km road stage the next day.
UAE TEAM EMIRATES SQUAD
Tadej Pogacar (Slovenia)
Fabio Aru (Italy)
Davide Formolo (Italy)
Jan Polanc (Slovenia)
Alexander Kristoff (Norway)
Vegard Stake Laengen (Norway)
David De La Cruz (Spain)
Marco Marcato (Italy)