Adam Yates, Vine, Sivakov, Almeida all eye up Vuelta a España as UAE Team Emirates place Grand Tour pawns

Emirati squad announce full Tour de France selection led by Pogačar and Yates, as UAE Team Emirates' Grand Tour plans begin to take shape

Clock11:24, Tuesday 19th December 2023
João Almeida and Jay Vine both rode the Vuelta a España this year, with the former finishing 9th overall

© Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images

João Almeida and Jay Vine both rode the Vuelta a España this year, with the former finishing 9th overall

Much of the talk in the immediate aftermath of UAE Team Emirates' 2023 media day has surrounded their star-studded line-up for the Tour de France, with Tadej Pogačar supported by an armada of climbing talent, but the team's squad for the Vuelta a España is beginning to look just as exciting.

Adam Yates, Pavel Sivakov and João Almeida have all been named as part of the team's provisional squad for the Tour, where they will support the undisputed leader Pogačar. Additionally, all three have outlined their ambitions to ride the Vuelta in discussion with GCN, as has Jay Vine, who'll support Pogačar at the Giro d'Italia.

“Yeah I think so," Pavel Sivakov told GCN at the UAE Team Emirates' training camp in Altea, Spain, when asked about his Vuelta participation. "I want to do two full Grand Tours in one season. I have had the chance to start two before, but I had Covid so I would like to complete that, it would be good.”

Both Sivakov and Almeida will be making their Tour de France debuts in July, should all go to plan, though both will be expected to sacrifice any of their own ambitions in pursuit of Pogačar's third Tour crown.

If there was any doubt that Pogačar may not necessarily be the team leader after riding the Giro d'Italia beforehand, that was squashed on Monday when UAE Team Emirates staff unequivocally told GCN that the Slovenian would be their number one guy in France.

Read more: Tadej Pogačar to race Tour de France, Olympics, and Worlds after Giro debut

In slight contrast to Sivakov's roaring enthusiasm to ride two Grand Tours next season, Almeida was slightly more blunt in his desires for 2024.

"I want to do the Vuelta as well because it starts in Portugal. That is why I want to do it, otherwise I think I would skip it," he admitted.

Next year's Vuelta, of course, has its Gran Salida (or Grand Départ) in Lisbon, Portugal, before moving onto nearby Cascais on day two and having its final stage in Almeida's home country on day three between Lousã and Castello Branco. The 25-year-old is in fine spirits when discussing the architecture of Lisbon and will no doubt be a fan favourite in the Vuelta's opening days.

Read more: Lisbon confirmed to host the 2024 Vuelta a España Gran Salida

Whereas the Vuelta will serve as a Portuguese homecoming for Almeida in 2024, its allure to Yates lies in the opportunity to possibly chase after his maiden Grand Tour title.

“Maybe in the Vuelta this year I get my own opportunities, it would be really nice," said Yates. "But it depends on how the form goes, how much fatigue there is and have to rest after the Tour and see how I come up.

"This year there is the Olympics as well in the middle. It is not really a course that suits me down to the ground, but if you go to the Olympics it is a super cool experience and everyone wants to go.”

The British climber is not the only rider with his own ambitions for the Vuelta a España in 2024 and whilst the year's final Grand Tour is only a possibility at this point for Yates, the race is firmly set in the calendar for Australian, Jay Vine.

Vine won two stages of the Vuelta last year for Alpecin-Fenix, but suffered a disappointing first season with UAE Team Emirates and crashed out of the race on stage 6 this time around. Although the Australian was forced to watch the rest of the Vuelta from home, Sepp Kuss' remarkable victory has given the Australian hope that he too might be able to pull off a GC upset in Spain in the future.

“Anything is possible. Sepp won the Vuelta this year, so anything is possible," Vine told GCN of targeting the GC at the Vuelta. "I was in very good shape last year for the Vuelta. I obviously haven’t raced much all year, but once I’d recovered from Lord knows how many lots of sickness, I can be good in August. I really like racing in the heat, so why not?

“I think the shorter days definitely suit me best at the Vuelta. Shorter days, harder days as well with more climbing and also the heat, I love racing in the heat."

Unlike Vine, new UAE Team Emirates recruit Sivakov identifies the Vuelta as suiting him the least of the three Grand Tours, but he too is optimistic about his chances for 2024.

“I would say the Vuelta suits me the least, with more punchy climbs, but a Grand Tour sometimes even if it doesn’t suit you 100%, if you’re strong, you can do something.”

Be it Yates, Almeida, Vine or Sivakov, UAE Team Emirates will certainly go into the Vuelta dreaming of going home with the overall title, as will their team at the Tour de France.

Six climbers named in UAE Team Emirates' Tour de France squad, Yates as co-leader

As per sport manager Matxin Fernandez, joining Pogačar, Yates, Almeida and Sivakov in UAE Team Emirates' squad will be Marc Soler, Juan Ayuso, Tim Wellens and Nils Politt. The eight-man squad arguably contains six climbers who could be the team leader of any number of UCI WorldTeams.

"Honestly, it's a dream team," agreed Sivakov. "I think no one has ever seen a team like this, it is going to be fireworks.

"The course is quite hard, there is already some hard stages in the first week so having such a strong team can also be an advantage and already start putting pressure on others from the gun."

With the talent at their disposal, UAE Team Emirates will enjoy the option of playing multiple cards within the Tour's opening week, just as the team did with Yates on stage 1 of this year's race.

Read more: Tour de France: Adam Yates beats brother to take stage 1 victory and yellow jersey

Despite the addition of Ayuso, Almeida and Sivakov into the mix, however, the Brit is confident that his role as the team's second-in-command will remain in July.

"Last year was super nice with everybody doing their role, we all had a role and we all had a job. I think for me, my role doesn't really change," Yates told GCN.

"For me, my preparation and what I've been told I need to do doesn't change, so for me personally, nothing changes, but we obviously have to deal with different riders and different riding styles for next year."

Jay Vine to support Tadej Pogačar at Giro d'Italia

As for the Giro d'Italia, less is known about UAE Team Emirates' full squad to support Pogačar's ambition to win the race on debut.

Read more: Tadej Pogačar fulfils a childhood dream in riding the Giro d'Italia

Various outlets, including Wielerflits, are reporting that UAE Team Emirates' squad is settled: Tadej Pogačar, Jay Vine, Felix Großschartner, Rafał Majka, Juan Sebastián, Domen Novak, Rui Oliveira and Mikkel Bjerg. However, a member of UAE Team Emirates' staff informed GCN that the team for the Giro was not yet decided and the team weren't at a stage to publicly comment on the squad.

As was seen with Visma-Lease a Bike and their (falsely) reported squad for next year's Giro d'Italia, plans can often be far from set in stone at this point of the season.

Read more: ‘I don’t know who is making this up’ - Jumbo-Visma dismiss Giro d’Italia line-up reports

However, what is certain is that Vine will be by the side of Pogačar in Italy, as the Australian confirmed to GCN, and that the team hold great excitement at the prospect of chasing a maiden pink jersey for the 25-year-old.

“I’m ok mates with Jack Haig and he told me last year that one of his favourite moments was being part of a Grand Tour-winning team with Simon Yates, and he really wants to do that again. That stuck with me," Vine said.

"Then when I got told that Tadej is doing the Giro, and that I’d be doing the Giro with him, I was like ‘Oh, this is going to be really cool.’ It’s not happened yet, he’s not won the damn thing yet, but it’s Tadej, he’s going to the Giro, I’m part of the team, there’s a pretty damn good chance that he could win it! So I’m really looking forward to that.”

The route presentation for the 2024 Vuelta a España will take place in Madrid on Tuesday evening, stay tuned to the GCN Website for all the information, reaction and analysis.

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