Adam Yates stays cool ahead of high-profile UAE Tour push: ‘There’s pressure, but it’s internal’

Yates debuts for UAE Team Emirates at its home race and carries the burden of filling the boots of two-time champion Tadej Pogačar.

Photo: Getty Images

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ABU DHABI (VN) – Adam Yates has some big boots to fill and some big expectations to meet at the UAE Tour this coming week.

Yates makes his debut for UAE Team Emirates at its home race Monday and takes sole leadership of a powerpacked seven in the absence of double defending champion Tadej Pogačar.

“There’s pressure, but it’s not really from the team. It’s more internal,” Yates said at the pre-race conference Sunday.

“When I first started talking with the team, the plan was always to do UAE Tour because I did so well in the past. They trust me, they believe in me. And for me, the pressure is from within, because I want to repay the favor.”

Yates has a rich history with the Emirati tour. He won the curtailed 2020 race with Mitchelton Scott and finished second the next two years for Ineos Grenadiers.

The Brit roars into the Emirates for his first race since leaving Ineos buoyed by a return to the race he relishes.

“The last few years have been really good here. The first year I came, I won. And then the last two years, I come second to arguably the best bike rider in the world [i.e., Pogačar – ed],” he said.

“So, for me, it gives me a lot of confidence that this year is going to be my year.”

No Pogačar, no problem

Yates and UAE Emirates face off with co-favorite Evenepoel in the Emirati race.

Yates is handed sole leadership in the UAE of a team that also includes Tour Down Under winner Jay Vine and U.S. talent Brandon McNulty.

Marc Soler and Mikkel Bjerg bring even more brawn for the race’s crucial TTT and summit finishes.

It’s a selection that could strangle the tour in what is touted to become a showdown with world champion Remco Evenepoel.

Why so much strength all in one place in the jam-packed winter calendar?

Because for the team, the UAE Tour is second only to the Tour de France for sponsor stoke and its mission to spread the cycling word to the Middle East.

Sunday’s press conference was hosted in the flagship Colnago bike store on Hudayriyat Island, and a whole peloton of local VIPs was in attendance.

“We are a team with ambition. And at the same time, I think Adam and all the other riders are champions,” team boss Mauro Gianetti said when not busy doing the rounds of Abu Dhabi city leaders.

“They like to have pressure, they like to have ambition. So they’ve said it’s their ambition to be on the front.”

The expectation for the team to perform is heightened by its decision to allow peloton dominator Pogačar to bypass its home competition in favor of him riding to a crushing victory at the Ruta del Sol this past week.

“We have a strong team and a rider that can take the responsibility to try to win the race,” Gianetti said. “For us, it was important to give Tadej the chance to change his program and to not be always in the same races.”

Yates will be hoping to make good this week on his new manager’s decision.

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