Dubai: Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar and Belgian rider Jasper Philipsen will lead the UAE Team Emirates campaign as this week sees the start of the classics.
Pogacar will start as the favourite in La Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege one-day classics on September 30 and October 4 respectively, while Philipsen will front the team for the BinckBank Tour that is scheduled to be held on the roads of the Netherlands and Belgium from September 29 to October 3.
The five-stage race will include a time trial, on roads often graced by the spring classics with the final day finishing in Louvain La Neuve.
After being close to winning a stage at this same event last year, the 22-year-old Belgian talent is expected to do well while building on the momentum generated by his teammates after a very successful start to the season.
The team will aim for stage wins with Philipsen proving himself in sprints, while the in-form Alessandro Covi is expected to be given a free rein to hunt for glory.
Last season, Philipsen was also on the startlist of UAE Team Emirates, and the youngster is scheduled to depart from the UAE and join the Alpecin-Fenix team on a two-year contract starting in 2021.
Philipsen is expecting his past experience to come to his rescue this season at this week’s event. “Last year, I also rode BinckBank and came close to winning a stage. It’s five days of hard racing and from looking at the parcours there are a few days that suit me well,” he said.
“This year I hope to go one step further and go for a stage win. We have a good team for the week so I’m looking forward to it and really motivated to race on home roads here in Belgium,” he added.
Andrej Hauptman of Slovenia and Australian Allan Peiper will manage the squad of seven riders as sports directors during the course of the week.
Meanwhile, 2020 Tour de France champion Pogacar will be back in action as UAE Team Emirates geared up for the first of the Ardennes Classic races, namely the La Fleche Wallone and the Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
While Pogacar will lead the team, veteran former world champion Rui Costa will step in with his experience and a solid pair of legs for the one-day classics.
Sports Directors Neil Stephens of Australia and Simone Pedrazzini of Switzerland will take charge for Fleche Wallonne, while Stephens will be joined by countryman Peiper for the Liege-Bastogne-Liege race.
“I came out of the Tour pretty well. I have managed to recover a bit and my goal is to finish off the last part of the season in a good way,” Pogacar said.
“As always if I have the legs I will try something, but also am willing to sacrifice for my teammates if they are strong, as I did in the World Championships,” he added.
BinckBank Tour: Tom Bohli (Switzerland); Sven Erik Bystrom (Norway); Alessandro Covi (Italy); Ivo Oliveira (Portugal); Rui Oliveira (Portugal); Jasper Philipsen (Belgium); Aleksandr Riabushenko (Belgium)
La Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege: Tadej Pogacar (Slovenia); Rui Costa (Portugal); Jan Polanc (Slovenia); Edward Ravasi (Italy); Cristian Muñoz (Colombia); Sergio Henao (Colombia); Camilo Ardila (Colombia)