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Marc Hirschi is back racing this week for the first time following his high-profile transfer from Sunweb (now Team DSM) to UAE-Team Emirates on a deal that will reportedly make the 23-year-old Swiss rider a wealthy young man.
A revelation in 2020, Hirschi brushed off questions about the details of his transfers or whispers that there might be something more nefarious behind the unexpected move.
Also read: Where’s Marc Hirschi?
Speaking to Swiss journalists ahead of his start at the Volta a Catalunya, Hirschi said his delay was caused by minor problems with his hip, and a back-loaded schedule that includes the Tour de France, Olympic Games, and world championships.
Barred from disclosing details about his transfer, Hirschi did say that wanted “a change of scenery.”
“I was looking for a new sporting challenge,” he told Blick, a Swiss newspaper. “UAE was the third-best team last year and many riders took victories. That appealed to me. Also, the team is extremely advanced in science and nutrition, and that will help me going forward.”
In the interview, the 22-year-old denied that he ever used the controversial diet supplement Ketones (which the MPCC says should be banned) or downplayed the controversial doping past of team manager Mauro Gianetti both as a rider and with scandals involving riders on his former teams.
“It’s not up to me to comment on his past,” Hirschi said. “He convinced me during the negotiations. He is very close to the team. About Ketones: I’ve never tried them, and I don’t think they make much of a difference.”
In another interview with L’Equipe, Hirschi shrugged off suggestions of something more suspicious that was part of his transfer as something that is the price of success in cycling.
“In this sport, as soon as a rider has success, people think there is doping behind it,” Hirschi told L’Equipe. “I’m learning to deal with that aspect. I have to accept that there will always be critics.”
Marc Hirschi : « J'ai pris la bonne décision »
— L'ÉQUIPE (@lequipe) March 23, 2021
A U23 world champion in 2018, Hirschi was one of the revelations of the 2020 season, winning a stage at the Tour de France and victory at Flèche Wallonne, second at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and third at the world championships.
It wasn’t long after that UAE came calling with a lucrative, three-season offer that was just as interesting financially as it was with the sporting aspects.
After Catalunya, Hirschi is set to race Iztulia Basque Country, the Ardennes classics, the Tour de Suisse, and the Tour de France.