Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 17 October 2019

Rui Costa: Balance the key to UAE Team Emirates success at Lombardia and in 2020

Each week a cyclist or member of UAE Team Emirates writes for The National, providing insight from the UCI World Tour and offering their thoughts on the season

Rui Costa has signed a new contract with UAE Team Emirates which keeps him at the team for another two years. Courtesy UAE Team Emirates
Rui Costa has signed a new contract with UAE Team Emirates which keeps him at the team for another two years. Courtesy UAE Team Emirates

Balance plays a big part in my life both on the track and off it. To be a good cyclist it’s all about having great balance. When kids learn how to ride, it’s the first skill they look to master. It’s also important in running a winning team. UAE Team Emirates have put together a great squad for 2020 that has a good balance between youth and experience.

As one of the more experienced riders, I am delighted to have recently signed a two-year contract extension with UAE Team Emirates. It is a great boost to me to know that I have the confidence of the whole team behind me, and I am really happy to continue the progress we have made together and be a part of this great cycling project that is UAE Team Emirates.

I’ve been in the team since it switched from Lampre-Merida to the current configuration in 2017 and since then I have enjoyed a whole load of podium finishes and always relished putting on the UAE Team Emirates jersey.

Ever since I joined the team, I immediately bought into the values and share the vision the team has so it was important to me that I was able to solidify my future as a UAE Team Emirates rider for the coming seasons.

It is great to see the team putting a lot of faith in young riders. I think I’m in a great place to offer advice and share my knowledge with the likes of Tadej Pogacar and fellow compatriots Rui and Ivo Oliveira, whom have great futures in the sport ahead of them.

It’s funny to remember when I first came to the UAE five years ago as world champion and participated in the Dubai Tour; everything was so surreal and new to me. Now, I’m at the centre of the UAE Team Emirates and the UAE feels like a second home. It’s great.

It’s been a fantastic two years so far, full of wonderful memories, but one that sticks out for me the most is the Abu Dhabi Tour in 2017. I won the Queen Stage after an energy sapping climb up Jabel Hafeet – it was the perfect race and brilliant timing having just joined the team.

This season has been tough. I had a bad injury in March when I was hit by a truck whilst training, but I came back strong thanks to the support from my team and a lot of hard work. Despite that setback, I was consistent throughout the year finishing in the top-10 20 times and on the podium six. Unfortunately, I haven’t tasted victory but I’m looking forward to changing those podium finishes into wins next year and doing well in the next race in Lombardia.

Il Lombardia comes after a very hard World Championship and I’m gearing up for what will be a very demanding and challenging race. This version of the course will start from Bergamo and finish in Como which isn’t exactly suited to my characteristics. I’d prefer to finish in Bergamo but have a well thought-out game plan and will look to execute this perfectly in a good performance for the team.

The UAE Team Emirates line-up for Il Lombardia. Courtesy UAE Team Emirates
The UAE Team Emirates line-up for Il Lombardia. Courtesy UAE Team Emirates

The team will rely on other top riders such as Daniel Martin and Diego Ulissi here due to the parcours of Lombardia being more suited to the climbers. Dan won the race in 2014 and finished in the top-10 last year so has a great chance this weekend. Diego carried his good form from Canada into Italy finishing sixth in the Giro dell’Emilia so could be our best chance of a podium finish in Lombardia.

I know this may sound strange, but I am hoping for bad weather. I love the rain and cold temperatures and will look to exploit any advantage I can gain if the weather becomes a factor that influences the race. There is a great balance in the team we are sending to Lombardia so we’ll be able to react to whatever comes our way.

Having a number of different options gives us a brilliant chance of one of us being among the head positions.

Updated: October 10, 2019 01:10 PM

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