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Brandon McNulty ‘really stoked’ about Tour de France bid

American grand tour promise will not race Giro d'Italia and could join Tadej Pogačar in yellow jersey defense.

Brandon McNulty could be punching his ticket to the Tour de France this summer.

UAE Emirates officials confirmed McNulty will skip a planned Giro d’Italia start next month, and will likely make his Tour debut in late July.

The decision was made after this month’s Itzulia Basque Country, where McNulty rode into the final stage wearing the leader’s jersey.

Barring an injury or other mishap, McNulty will likely race the Tour this summer in his sophomore season in the WorldTour.

“At the start of the year we talked about the different options and both Giro and Tour were on the table, we chatted about it again after Basque Country and made the decision,” McNulty said Wednesday. “I was pretty excited by both of them because being a leader at the Giro or doing my first Tour are both sweet options. I’m really stoked at the prospect of starting my first Tour.”

Sources confirmed to VeloNews that McNulty would not race the Giro next month as expected, and instead was added to UAE Team Emirates‘ long list for a likely start at the Tour alongside defending champion Tadej Pogačar.

McNulty’s name was not on a preliminary start list released Tuesday by Giro d’Italia officials. La Gazzetta dello Sport reported overnight McNulty would not start the Giro.

Sources confirmed to VeloNews on Wednesday that McNulty instead will be added to UAE Emirates’ long team for the Tour de France, set to start in late June.

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The behind-the-scenes move reveals growing confidence among team staffers in McNulty as well as reflects his growing closeness with Pogačar.

Last year, McNulty rode to 15th overall in his grand tour debut in what was the best U.S. grand tour debut since 2001.

So far in 2021, McNulty has come flying out of the gates in top form. At his season debut at Paris-Nice, he rode to second in the decisive time trial before crashing out. At Volta a Catalunya, he posted another strong time trial result en route to 13th overall.

Earlier this month, McNulty raced alongside Pogačar at Itzulia Basque Country, and carried the leader’s jersey into the final stage. Though his grip on the lead unraveled in an explosive and thrilling finale, the fact that Pogačar and the team rode for McNulty that day confirms its growing confidence in the second-year WorldTour pro.

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With a critical title defense coming up this summer on a challenging Tour route, Pogačar could use the additional horsepower that McNulty could bring. Other top names expected to race the Tour include Marc Hirschi, Alexander Kristoff and Rafal Majka.

Hot off winning Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Pogačar is expected to race the Critérium du Dauphiné or the Tour of Slovenia before returning to France.

The late-hour change means UAE Emirates will reshuffle its Giro deck.

The team is expected to finalize its final Giro roster this week, with Davide Formolo, Diego Ulissi, Fernando Gaviria and American climber Joe Dombrowski expected to start in Torino on May 8.