UAE Team Emirates are the “best team in the world”, according to team manager Mauro Gianetti after they topped the 2023 UCI teams rankings.
Despite Jumbo-Visma having won all three Grand Tours, UAE Team Emirates have secured the top rank for the first time after a fierce season-long battle.
They achieved a 30,958-point haul, helped by Tadej Pogcar leading the individual points rankings, and Gianetti said they managed it by investing in young, future talent.
“Winning the UCI team classifications confirms that we’re the best team in the world,” he told Cyclingnews
. “That’s special for us and for our sponsors. It also means that the United Arab Emirates has the number one team in professional cycling.
“It was one of our biggest goals for 2023 alongside the Tour de France. We didn’t win the Tour but we finished second and third.
“We won with 18 different riders, we won the best young rider white jersey in all three Grand Tours. That shows the future looks good too. We’ve invested in young talent and it’s paying off.”
UAE Team Emirates and Jumbo-Visma locked horns throughout the season, which became a controversial affair when team selection announcements began to arrive late in a bid to edge a tactical advantage.
Jumbo-Visma came out on top in 69 races and secured 127 podium spots, while UAE Team Emirates won 57 races and took 139 podium spots.
Gianetti’s team were crowned the number one team thanks to their broader set of results.
The Tour de France was the main focus for UAE Team Emirates, as Gianetti revealed, but Pogacar’s crash at Liege-Bastogne-Liege disrupted their preparation for the 21-stage race.
He ended up in second behind Jumbo-Visma’s Jonas Vingegaard with UAE Team Emirates’ Adam Yates also on the podium in third.
Marc Hirschi, Joao Almeida, Juan Ayuso, Marc Hirschi, Jay Vine and Brandon McNulty also helped with the mammoth points haul in a memorable campaign for Gianetti’s team.
“It’s been an extraordinary season for us,” he said. “We started off really with Jay Vine winning the Tour Down Under and then Tadej won the Tour of Flanders, the Amstel Gold Race and Fleche-Wallonne.
“Tadej’s bad crash and fracture was something new for him. He spent three and a half weeks off the bike and had to start his Tour de France training from scratch. We weren’t sure what would happen at the Tour de France but Tadej gave his all.
“We wanted to win the Tour but we can only accept that Jonas Vingegaard and Jumbo-Visma were better this year. We’re still proud to finish second and third, and to have fought every day.
“The stage over the Col de la Loze, when Tadej cracked, was a special day because he dug deep and managed to hang onto second overall. A lot of other riders would have quit but he showed his character by fighting on.”
UAE Team Emirates are expected to target a Giro d’Italia-Tour de France double in 2024 as bosses get their heads together to plan the season ahead.
Giro d’Italia 2024: A preview of the route
They’ve brought in Pavel Sivakov, Nils Politt and Filippo Baroncini, while young riders Igor Arrieta, Isaac del Toro and António Morgado have also been added to the team.
“There’s a lot of speculation that Tadej could ride the Giro d’Italia, but nothing has been decided yet,” Gianetti said.
“We want to see the route of the Tour de France and then carefully consider things and talk as a team during our first team get-together. Only then will we decide and announce our plans and goals for 2024.
“The 2024 Tour de France will be a great race, especially considering what happened this year, with Primoz Roglic at Bora-Hansgrohe and Remco Evenepoel targeting the Tour de France too. I can’t wait for July.
“The battle between us and Jumbo-Visma motivates and pushes both teams to improve, grow and work hard. I think it’s healthy competition that also stimulates other teams to raise their game and work hard too.
“For sure, we’re going to be working to improve for 2024.”
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