UAE Team Emirates are the first professional cycling team to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Gazzetta dello Sport reported Thursday that the team members — including 2020 Tour de France winner Tadej Pogačar — and support staff in Abu Dhabi were prioritized for the preventative measure as they prepare for the 2021 season.
Pogačar is set to defend the yellow jersey as well as aim for the top of the podium in other races, beginning in Mallorca at the end of January.
“It is not difficult to motivate myself, because I love to race. I still want to achieve many things in cycling. Of course I would like to defend my overall victory in the Tour de France, but there are more important competitions. I also hope to win other major races,” Pogačar told organizers of the Volta a Valenciana. “I can look back on a good winter period, with a short holiday in the United Arab Emirates. That was nice, but we are now again dealing with stricter corona measures.”
Of nearly 100 UAE Team Emirates employees, it was reported that 60 were vaccinated, and of those, 28 are racers including Matteo Trentin, Davide Formolo, and Marco Marcato among others.
Diego Ulissi is not in Abu Dhabi with the team, as he is still at home undergoing observation for abnormal cardiac function.
The vaccine was offered to all UAE Team Emirates on a voluntary basis; every available rider and support member elected to be vaccinated.
The two-dose Sinopharm vaccine was jointly produced by Chinese, UAE, and Israeli scientists, and has already been distributed on a wide scale in Israel.
In recent days, UAE Team Emirates was linked with Swiss breakout star Marc Hirschi, but at this time, neither the team nor Hirschi have confirmed any arrangement.