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Analysis: UAE Emirates builds beyond Tadej Pogačar to strengthen ‘superteam’ status in 2023

Marquee signings for new season both support Pogačar's Tour de France ambition and provide winning options all through the calendar.

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UAE Team Emirates adds some extra “super” to its superteam status in 2023.

Tadej Pogačar will share a team bus with yet more top-tier talent next season as the Emirati megasquad seeks to expand its scoresheet all across the calendar.

Adam Yates, Tim Wellens, and Jay Vine headline UAE Emirates’ off-season signings as the team both clusters around Pogačar’s Tour de France quest and looks to limit its reliance on its “Cannibal”-esque team captain.

Also read:

It’s a powerplay that puts the pressure on archrivals Jumbo-Visma as the WorldTour’s two world-toppers continue to tangle for the grand tour throne left vacant by the rebooting Ineos Grenadiers.

2022: Another Pogačar victory lap – almost

Pogacar scored one-third of his team’s victories in 2022. (Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Marquee victories 2022:

  • UAE Tour: 1st overall, two stage wins (all Pogačar)
  • Strade Bianche: 1st (Pogačar)
  • Paris-Nice: Stage win (McNulty)
  • Tirreno-Adriatico: 1st overall, two stage wins (all Pogačar)
  • Volta Catalunya: 3rd overall, stage win (both Almeida)
  • Giro d’Italia: Stage win (Covi)
  • Tour de France: 2nd overall, three stage wins (all Pogačar)
  • Vuelta a España: 3rd overall, two stage wins (Ayuso, Soler, Molano)
  • GP Montréal: 1st (Pogačar)
  • Il Lombardia: 1st (Pogačar)

Pogačar harvested one-third of UAE Emirates’ victories in 2022 (16 of 48) and contributed its most boast-worthy wins.

Whether in stage races, classics, or monuments, Pogačar reigned at the top of the team.

The Slovenian topped the podium from the early UAE Tour all the way through Il Lombardia and seemingly singlehandedly dragged UAE Emirates to second in the UCI rankings behind Jumbo-Visma.

Even without a third-straight Tour de France title, Pogčar choked the calendar and kept the white and black UAE jersey in the eyeline all year long. Only Remco Evenepoel came close for hype, headlines and podium time.

But what beyond Pogačar?

Riders like Brandon McNulty, João Almeida, Marc Soler, and teen phenom Juan Ayuso all threw pennies into a team prize pot kept full by Pogačar’s prowess.

Ayuso’s breakout ride to third in the Vuelta a España promised big things for the future while Almeida came close all through the year. But look past Pogačar, and UAE Emirates didn’t dominate the WorldTour winners’ podiums in the way it wanted when it blew apart the transfer market last winter.

Pogačar dominated the UCI rider rankings in 2022, but Jumbo-Visma topped the team points league. The stats say it all.

2023: More climbers, more captains

HAUTACAM, FRANCE - JULY 21: Adam Yates of United Kingdom and Team INEOS Grenadiers competes while fans cheer during the 109th Tour de France 2022, Stage 18 a 143,2km stage from Lourdes to Hautacam 1520m / #TDF2022 / #WorldTour / on July 21, 2022 in Hautacam, France. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Adam Yates adds even more depth to the UAE captaincy crew in 2023. (Photo: Getty Images)

Marquee transfers 2023:

  • Out: Rui Costa, Fernando Gaviria
  • In: Adam Yates, Tim Wellens, Felix Großchartner, Jay Vine, Domen Novak

UAE Emirates continued to pile cash into its ambitions this winter.

After last year signing the likes of Almeida, Soler and George Bennett, the team this year scored big with the signing of stage-racing ace Yates, all-around attacker Wellens, mountain-maestro Vine, and a brace more top climbers.

Fading sprinter Fernando Gaviria was let loose as the team increasingly focusses on its GC ambitions. Veteran captain Rui Costa also got cut after he failed to make the Tour team this summer.

Yates will land directly into the center of UAE Emirates next month. The 30-year-old is a sure bet for week-long results and should secure some big scores while Pogačar is on the sofa.

Elsewhere, Yates adds even more horsepower to UAE’s stable of grand tour contenders. After amassing five grand tour top-10s, the Brit will see his chances alongside Ayuso, Almeida or McNulty with shared leadership at the Giro d’Italia or Vuelta a España.

And fellow new signings like Wellens, Vine, and Felix Großchartner?

2023’s clutch of marquee climbers add more high-power carriages to Pogačar’s Tour de France train, but also bring all-year options to reduce the team’s reliance on its WorldTour-topping talisman.

“We give the new riders options when it comes to joining one of the best teams in the world,” team manager Joxean Fernández told VeloNews. “It’s not about achieving the position of first or second or third in the team. It’s about creating the best calendar and sporting space for all the riders and then making sure that we are competitive through the season.

“From the first race until the last, it’s about having a balanced lineup for the team.”

Jumbo-Visma and the Tour de France face off

Pogačar was outflanked by Jumbo-Visma at the Tour and won’t want a repeat.

UAE Emirates wants to win all year long. But it also wants to win big.

Pogačar’s quest to return to the top of the Tour de France will make for the center of his team’s ambitions in 2023.

Next summer’s Tour is already looking set to see a repeat of the Pogačar vs Vingegaard showdown that tore up the Tour this July as the Slovenian aims for his third maillot jaune.

“I learned a lot from the Tour. There were some errors, some things I would have done differently, things I could do better, but nothing catastrophic. Just small things,” Pogačar told El Mundo as he reflected on his 2022 overturn.

“In every race you do, there are good things and bad things. In the end, you bring this all together and go into the next race even better prepared. That’s why I believe that for 2023 I can be very, very confident and motivated to be even better than this year.”

Having riders like Yates and Vine in a Tour eight already stacked with stars will give Pogačar yet more to be confident about.