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UAE launches World Tour cycling team
Agnelo Rodrigues January 05, 2017
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ABU DHABI: UAE took a giant leap in professional cycling, with the launch of UAE Abu Dhabi Professional Cycling Team, the country’s first World Tour team.

The UCI World Team to be led by 2013 World Road Champion Rui Costa, has some of the world’s best cyclists, including UAE’s top rider and Olympian Yousef Mohammed Mirza, in its ranks. And during the unveiling here, on Wednesday, Matar Suhail Al Yabhouni, the chairman of the team said that the goal was to have a very successful team.

“The idea was there right from the beginning of the Abu Dhabi Tour in 2015 and it’s my own initiative to give something back to my country. It’s not just to have a team in the world circuit but to have a successful team. It is our first season and the team was assembled in a short time,” said Yabhouni.

“I believe we have been able to establish a pretty good team which we would certainly be looking to further improve and strengthen over a period of time.” he added.

Mirza, on his part was very excited and hopes to garner a lot of experience for his team members. “I am proud to be selected to be a part of this team and it will be a great step for me to join in the UCI World Tour and get a lot of experience from these champions.”

“I wish to represent UAE in the best possible way. It was always my dream to take part in big races like Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and this will help me and UAE to have more professional cyclists in the future,” added the 28-year-old at the briefing which was also attended by riders Louis Meintjes, Filippo Ganna, Matej Mohoric, Andrea Guardini.

Meintjes, who is in Abu Dhabi for the first time, was also looking forward to working with the new team.

“It’s a new project and I am really happy to be a part of the team. It is almost a victory that we can start this Abu Dhabi team because we were a little bit uncertain a few months back and I am really thankful for that,” said the 24-year-old.

“Everyone is hungry and the reason this team started is because everyone is very passionate and they want to make a difference and want to start something new. It is really nice to be start with a vibe and environment like that. I think if we can carry that momentum throughout the year, it will be very good,” added the top South African cyclist,

Meanwhile Khalid Saif Al Muhairi, a board member of the owning company said that the team was assembled in a short time and that more additions will be made in the future.

“We have assembled 24 up to now but we are looking to add more as we will be participating in a lot of races. We had little time once we decided to assemble a team. It all began in late November and we just managed to get all papers cleared by end of December in time to have a team entered.”

“It was a bit of a struggle with the Christmas holidays but we managed to do it. We are talking of a team that’s worth more than Euros 30million. It wasn’t an easy task given the little time we had,” he added.

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