Team Emirates’ cyclists give instruction to budding riders during their visit to Al Rabeeh School in Abu Dhabi.
As part of its ongoing commitment to inspire the next generation of cyclists, riders from the UAE Team Emirates cycling team visited Al Rabeeh School in Abu Dhabi during their end of season camp in the UAE.
Alexander Kristoff, Fernando Gaviria, Yousif Mirza, Tadej Pogacar and Jasper Philipsen were joined by over 100 enthusiastic students as they delivered a series of coaching clinics and a Q&A session.
The UAE’s first ever Olympic cyclist, Yousif Mirza said: “Every time I come back to the UAE I see the progress that’s being made. This is a project we are extremely proud to be a part of and the team is working hard to discover these new riders and inspire more and more children to start riding.
“It’s great to see so many Emirati kids on bikes and who knows, maybe one of these guys could be representing the UAE in bike races in the future.
Yousif’s meteoric rise to success has been an inspiration for many young people growing up in the UAE and now he actively supports the UAE Team Emirates Youth Academy, which has been set up to help develop the next wave of homegrown talent.
Fernando Gaviria added: “I have seen cycling grow and grow in my home country and this year we finally had a Colombian winner of the Tour de France.
“This has been so inspirational for kids so I know first-hand how important our job is, as riders, to encourage the next generation from the UAE to take up the sport. Being a part of the Youth Academy has been fun – I love seeing so many children learning to ride.”
Launched in 2018 exclusively for school children living in the UAE, the cycling initiative has engaged over 500 children across 14 schools, 85% of which have been Emirati. Sessions are individually tailored to the ability of the children with the goal of growing the sport and promoting a healthier lifestyle.
The academy teaches youngsters all aspects of the sport from bike familiarization to group riding and technique.
Meanwhile, a few days before, UAE Team Emirates’ Gaviria earned his second stage win at the Tour of Guangxi with a well timed sprint finish, beating Pascal Ackermann (BORA-Hansgrohe) and Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) to victory.
The longest stage of the tour from Liuzhou to Guilin, spanning over 212.2km, took riders into the hills with the second half of the race being packed with climbs.
Gaviria was one of many sprinters dropped on the final climb, but his team mates worked hard to get him back up to the bunch before the race exploded into action.
With 250m to go, Gaviria was the first to open up the throttle and was unstoppable all the way to the line, showing he is getting back to the form we saw before his early season injury.
Gaviria said: “I rode conservatively knowing that there were climbs to overcome.
“I got confidence as I was close to the front in the hills. It’s incredible to get two stage wins here after the difficult season I had. My knee problems are definitely behind me.”
There was also a top 20 finish for UAE Team Emirates’ team-mate Ivo Oliveira who finished 17th.
It was a record season for the team with 29 victories and 65 other podium finishes with standout performances from star riders Pogacar, Kristoff and Gaviria.
They now have time to relax and recharge their batteries before reconvening in Spain for their pre-season training camp in December ahead of the 2020 season starting in January.
UAE Team Emirates will continue their commitment to developing young talent by signing 17-year old Spanish rider Juan Ayuso on a five-year deal with the team.
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