UAE Team Emirates ready for Tour de France debut

Squad looking for a strong showing after impressing at Criterium du Dauphiné
Slovenias Jan Polanc of team UAE Emirates celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the 4th stage of the 100th Giro dItalia, Tour of Italy, cycling race from Cefalu to Etna volcano in Sicily. (LUK BENIES/AFP/Getty Images)
By Staff writer
Sat 01 Jul 2017 01:45 PM

UAE Team Emirates will make their Tour de France debut with Diego Ulissi, Ben Swift and Louis Meintjes making up the three-man team vying for the famous yellow jersey.

As well as the team making its debut, it's the first UAE squad to take part in the world-class event that attracts an global audience. Sport director Mario Scirea said the team is in very good shape, particularly after its last showing in the Criterium du Dauphiné, a road cycling stage race that took place at the start of June.

“We are confident on the work done,” said sport director Mario Scirea “and the last performance at the Criterium du Dauphiné gave us the confirmation of being on the right way. We worked so hard as a team during last month on altitude, on Mount San Pellegrino in Italy, and all the data bring us confidence on the next Tour de France. For sure we also need good luck, but you have to help it”.

South African rider Louis Meintjes, who finished 8th in the last year's Tour de France, as well as eighth in the Criterium du Dauphiné, is expected to be among those fighting for the General Classification (GC).

“Last year I was 8th in the Tour de France, this result motivates me to try and go for some more in the GC. I hope that there will be no problems in the first week, then it will be great to have on the mountains the same feelings I had in the Criterium du Dauphiné.”

Englishman Ben Swift, who was with Team Sky last year, is looking forward to being able to ride with a bit more freedom.

“This year at the Tour de France will be a new experience, because I’ll have the freedom of taking my opportunities. In the past, I worked for the team, now I’m happy that the team entrusted me of trying to be as much competitive as possible in the stages that suite me most“.

Twenty-seven year-old Italian cyclist Diego Ulissi will make his debut this with UAE Team Emirates, and is looking forward to challenging for a stage win.

“I will debut in the Tour, I strongly wanted to face this new challenge, in search of new motivations and in order to perceive directly how great is the Tour de France. I’ll be in France with the goal of trying to fight for a stage victory, however I’m aware that this is one of the most difficult task because everybody will go for this target."

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