Brandon McNulty welcomes internal competition in UAE Emirates’ rich roster

Arizona star seeks later peak to season as raft of new arrivals intensifies battle to support Tadej Pogačar at Tour de France.

Photo: Getty Images

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JEBEL HAFEET, UAE (VN) – Brandon McNulty isn’t bothered by the influx of new leaders at UAE Team Emirates.

The Arizona upcomer feels forward momentum is created by the arrival of Adam Yates and Jay Vine to a team that already counts Tadej Pogačar, Juan Ayuso, and João Almeida in its leadership stable.

“Obviously there’s a lot of good guys, but it creates, not a competition, but it drives everyone to be their best. Everyone wants to get their opportunities, and everyone knows you’ve got to be your total best to get them,” McNulty told VeloNews ahead of the final stage of the UAE Tour.

“I almost see those guys coming in as a positive rather than a negative thing.”

McNulty insisted there’s no training ride half-wheeling or Strava-stalking tension in the battle for supremacy in the super squad.

“There’s no real training competition as such – we’re all friends so we’re not really trying to compete with each other. But we all just want to be at our top level,” McNulty said Sunday.

Also read: McNulty seeks one-week success in 2023 

McNulty had a marquee superdomestique role alongside Pogačar at the 2022 Tour de France, and he stepped up with aplomb. His ride up to Peyragudes helped set the Slovenian on the march to his third win of the race as he brawled with Jonas Vingeagaard for the yellow jersey.

McNulty is hoping to trade time pulling for Pogačar with increased focus on his own chances in 2023.

Upcoming rides through Tirreno-Adriatico and Itzulia Basque Country could offer the 24-year-old his opportunities as he extends his reach into one-week GC racing.

“It’s always nice to ride with Tadej, and of course, I hope to do that,” he said. “But also, when you’re with him you’re not getting chances for yourself. So it’d be nice to be a bit split with working for Tadej and hopefully winning and also racing for myself.”

McNulty flew below the radar so far this year compared to his blitzing start last year. In 2022, the long n’lean all-rounder tapped up two one-day wins and a trip to the GC podium in an all-swinging four-week spell.

“I tried to have a bit of a slower start than last year. So I’m not flying as much as I was this time last year, but it was a really good off-season for me,” he said Sunday in the UAE.

McNulty saw his hot start to 2022 sink in an off-kilter Vuelta a España that left him “with a bad taste in his mouth.”

This year he’s hoping to be motoring when it matters most.

“I came in too hot last year. I really came flying into the season early on. It paid off and I got a few wins, but it definitely hurt later in the year,” McNulty said.

“We just want to be a bit more even in the beginning and then build it out in these races right now to hopefully be able to be a bit better all year.”

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