With Dan Martin and Fabio Aru for GC, UAE-Team Emirates has gone all-in on the yellow jersey. Perhaps it’s the best move for the squad, as it was recently revealed that the team’s Colombian ace Fernando Gaviria is suffering with a knee injury and will not race the Tour.
For Martin, a rider used to fighting and scrapping for himself — something he’s done successfully, accumulating a run of consecutive top-10 finishes at the Tour — the 2019 Tour will feature a new dynamic. Will Aru be a co-leader, or a super-domestique to help in the mountains? Either way, Martin will have more support for his efforts in the overall with Colombian climber Sergio Henao and Rui Costa.
In the last few years, Martin has proven himself capable of riding inside the Tour’s top-10 and winning stages. Last year he even won the stage atop the Mur de Bretagne. Whether Martin’s punchy climbing stile is suited for this year’s Tour, with its long and grinding ascents, is yet to be seen.
Despite Gaviria’s absence, UAE-Team Emirates has not entirely abandoned its sprinting ambitions. Alexander Kristoff won last year’s stage on the Champs-Élysées, and Jasper Philipsen is one of the most exciting classics riders and sprinters of the coming generation.
Fabio Aru, Alexander Kristoff, Dan Martin, Sergio Henao, Sven Erik Bystrom, Rui Costa, Vegard Stake Laengen, Jasper Philipsen