Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 19 September 2019

Matxin Joexean Fernandez: UAE Team Emirates are building for the future during this transfer window

Each week a member of UAE Team Emirates is writing a column for The National, providing insight from the UCI World Tour and offering their thoughts on the season. This week: general manager Matxin Joexean Fernandez

This part of the year is one of the most exciting on the professional cycling calendar for me. And that’s not just because of the racing: it is because the transfer window always opens on August 1!

It is the crazy part of the season – just after the Tour de France – when a lot of the big name riders announce their new contracts, the lesser known neo-pros step up onto the World Tour scene and, as a team, it’s when we start to reveal our plans for 2020.

I started working as a Sports Manager with UAE Team Emirates in 2018, but I have had a relationship with the staff – and many of the riders – for a lot longer.

An important part of my background is in talent identification and management. It is something I am extremely passionate about and my role allows me to focus on the scouting and performance development of our riders, while my boss Mauro [Gianetti] focuses on running the team and overseeing the commercial side of the business.

Last year I was able to not only attract a proven superstar like Fernando Gaviria to UAE Team Emirates, but two extremely talented young riders who I’d had my eye on for a few seasons: Tadej Pogacar and Jasper Philipsen. They have already shown their value, claiming a mix of World Tour stages and taking overall GC wins between them.

This year we’re super proud of the new signings already announced. Two of the most significant are probably Davide Formolo, the 26-year-old Italian national champion and the Argentine national champion Maximiliano Richeze. Both have joined on two-year deals.

Formolo, who turned pro back in 2014, has already taken three major victories in his career: a stage in the 2015 Giro d’Italia, a stage of the 2019 Volta a Catalunya and the Italian national champion title earlier this year. He also came second in the last edition of Liege-Bastogne-Liege, proving his qualities in both the big stage races and the monuments.

Richeze has been able to forge a career not only as a winning sprinter but as a solid lead-out man for the top sprinters of the teams in which he has ridden. He is now considered one of the most reputable lead-out men in the peloton and he’s been brought in to work with Gaviria. The two of them know each other well and have a history of working together to deliver wins so I’m expecting fireworks from them in 2020.

The pairing adds to our already strong arsenal of horse power, which includes Alexander Kritstoff and his trusted Norwegian teammate Sven Erik Bystrom – both of whom have announced contract extensions until 2021.

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Behind-the-scenes at the Vuelta a Espana with UAE Team Emirates

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Valerio Conti has been one of our most successful riders this season. Most people will know him for defending the pink leaders jersey for nearly a week at the Giro in May. He has agreed to extend his contract too, which we are delighted about.

At the other end of the spectrum, we have spotted and signed two of the hottest properties coming up from the Under 23 Category - Mikkel Bjerg and Camilo Ardila.

Bjerg has already proven himself as a top level time triallist, winning the World Under-23 title twice in a row in 2017 and 2018. He has also come painfully close to breaking the hour world record and I genuinely believe he can become the next big name in time trialling.

Camilo is an emerging Colombian climber who recently won the Under-23 ‘Baby’ Giro at the age of 19. We’ve signed him in on a four-year contract and will be investing in his development every step of the way.

The Time Trial is a discipline we will be focusing on moving forward and – along with Bjerg – we have signed Brandon McNulty to support the team in this area. McNulty is one of the most promising talents to emerge from the US in recent years.

At just 21 years old, his career has already seen him claim the World Junior Time Trial title in 2016, a silver medal in the 2017 World Under 23 Championship Time Trial and three wins as a professional rider (TTT prologue of the Tour d’Alsace 2018 and a stage, and the GC of the Tour of Sicily in 2019).

With all the new blood we have, alongside the established riders and the highly skilled backroom staff, I am not only excited about next season – but confident we will continue to be a formidable force on the World Tour.

Updated: August 15, 2019 10:51 AM

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