Read on for press conference quotes from A.Yates, Pogačar, Froome, Nibali, Van der Poel, Ganna, Ackermann and Bennett. Start list and official roadbook available to download below.
Abu Dhabi, 20 February 2021 – Eight representatives from the peloton spoke to the media this afternoon in a virtual press conference ahead of the start of the 2021 UAE Tour this Sunday. Taking questions from the media was a top-class group of riders, made up of 2020 UAE Tour champion Adam Yates, runner-up and Tour de France-winner Tadej Pogačar, multi Grand Tour-winners Chris Froome and Vincenzo Nibali, ITT World Champion Filippo Ganna, Tour de France Green Jersey Sam Bennett, multiple Grand Tour stage-winner Pascal Ackermann and four-time Cyclocross World Champion Matthieu van der Poel. Read on for press conference quotes from the riders. The official start list is now available and can be downloaded above.
Adam Yates: “I’ll try to repeat my win from last year. I’ve felt good in training but it’s never the same as racing. The team is supporting me but we have a few options with [recent winner of the Tour de La Provence] Ivan Sosa. There are good climbers with me in the team but the ITT doesn’t necessarily favor me. We’ll just do our best on that stage and take it from there.”
Tadej Pogacar: “I think I’m still the same rider even after winning the Tour de France. I have the same motivation, the same focus and the same goals this year. The UAE Tour is a really important event for our team as it’s our home race. We were a little bit disappointed to finish only second last year here but we have another chance this time. During our training camp at Al Ain, I rode Jebel Hafeet a couple of times every day but it’ll be my first experience of climbing Jebel Jais during this race.”
Chris Froome: “I’m very excited to start my season here in the UAE where we always receive a very warm welcome and I’m looking forward to racing. I’ve had a good winter in California to fix my weaknesses and my rehab is definitely more complete than it was this time last year. I’m not here to win the race overall – it’s just about getting back into racing. We have a strong team with Ben Hermans as well. He can be our GC rider.”
Vincenzo Nibali: “It’s important to be here. I came out of the Étoile de Bessèges in good condition. I’m here to put myself against the other good climbers. This race can give me the answers I’m looking for in terms of my fitness ahead of my upcoming big races: the Tirreno-Adriatico and even later the Giro d’Italia.”
Mathieu van der Poel: “I’m here to be part of the sprint train for Jasper Philipsen. My main goal is to see how my level of fitness is compared to the best climbers. Other than that, I haven’t set any goals for myself yet. It’s a restart for me after the cyclo-cross season. I hope to feel better and better every day and help the team as much as possible.”
Filippo Ganna: “I hope to win the time trial but every race is different and we have other big goals in this UAE Tour. We’ve got Adam [Yates] to support. I’ll prepare for the time trial only after we’ve completed Stage 1. I’ll take the race step by step and day by day.”
Pascal Ackermann: “The UAE Tour is the most impressive race of the year with so many top sprinters in contention. In the first WorldTour race of the season, you never know how the guys are. It makes it a specific race and a very challenging one. Last week after the training, it was too cold to ride a bike back home with temperatures around -6°, so I decided to go skiing instead. We’ll see how it works, going straight from skiing in the mountains to sprinting in the UAE Tour!”
Sam Bennett: “It’s my third time riding the UAE Tour. I like it because of the nice roads and the great bunch of sprinters who always come here. The first race of the year is always exciting and it’s interesting to see where the form is against the rest of the guys – for me, it’s just a matter of getting back into racing.”