Tour de France: Pogacar supported by Majka, McNulty and Hirschi
Tadej Pogacar will be flanked by a beefed-up UAE Emirates squad at the Tour de France, with debutant Brandon McNulty and new hires Rafal Majka and Marc Hirschi part of the defending champion’s supporting cast.
Davide Formolo, Rui Costa, Mikkel Bjerg and Vegard Stake Laengen also feature in the eight-man squad, which was announced on Tuesday morning.
Last September, Pogacar took the overall victory despite his often isolation in the high mountains after losing Formolo and Fabio Aru at the start of the race. While Ineos and Jumbo-Visma appear to have the strongest teams on the Tour, the Slovenian should be able to count on more constant support in the mountains this time around.
“It’s a privilege to be back on the Tour as the defending champion. It has been a difficult year for a lot of people and we hope to be able to give everyone three exciting weeks of racing, ”said Pogačar.
Pogacar warmed up for the Tour by winning the Tour of Slovenia, although he had to settle for bronze in the national championship time trial last weekend. Earlier in the year he won the UAE Tour, Tirreno-Adriatico and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and he also finished second behind his compatriot and Tour rival Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) at Itzulia Basque Country.
“So far my year has gone really well and I’m really looking forward to starting this Tour with good preparation and good conditions,” said Pogačar. “I have confidence in myself and my team, we can’t wait to take up the challenge.
The UAE team Emirates recruited Majka from Bora-Hansgrohe last winter and they also took over Hirschi when DSM terminated his contract earlier this year, and the two new recruits were selected alongside Pogačar. McNulty was originally scheduled to compete in the Giro d’Italia, but the American was selected to support Pogacar in France.
Unlike last September, when Alexander Kristoff claimed victory on opening day in Nice, the UAE Team Emirates did not bring a sprinter to the race, and the team is completely dedicated to Pogacar.
“Our goal for this year is clear: we will try to defend the title that Tadej won last year, so we have built a team around him. We have a good mix of young people and experience to support Tadej with a strong block of climbers and also strong riders for flat roads, ”said team director Joxean Matxin Fernandez.
“Obviously, we will be strongly marked by the other teams and it will not be an easy task, but we are confident and know that a big result is well within reach for Tadej and the team.”