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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 November 2018

UAE Team Emirates already focused on future success at Tour de France after 'perfect finish' to 2018 race

Matar Suhail Al Yabhouni thrilled with two stage victories from the squad and a top-10 finish for Dan Martin

UAE Team Emirates rider Alexander Kristoff's victory on Stage 21 was the team's second of the Tour de France. Reuters
UAE Team Emirates rider Alexander Kristoff's victory on Stage 21 was the team's second of the Tour de France. Reuters

UAE Team Emirates president Matar Suhail Al Yabhouni is confident the squad can build on an impressive Tour de France with more success in the future.

The team recorded two stage victories, including the final leg on the Champs-Elysee on Sunday as Alexander Kristoff prevailed in a sprint to the line, providing them with a winning climax to the 21-stage event.

“Our goal from the time we founded the team last year was to achieve success at the highest level,” said Al Yabhouni.

“However, to win two stages in the Tour de France was a remarkable achievement, particularly to be successful in the final stage when the attention of the entire cycling world was on the finish at the Champs-Elysee.

“It was the perfect finish for us. We couldn’t have really wished for anything better.”

The success had begun in the opening week of the race when Irishman Dan Martin won Stage 6 to give the team their first ever win in the race's history.

Martin went on to finish eighth in the general classification, and he also picked up the award for the most combative rider of the Tour, after several attacking performances across key mountain stages.

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It’s the first award for the Irishman since joining the Emirati formation at the start of the 2018 UCI World Tour season.

“I race the way I race and I still think a podium is possible I just need to piece that perfect performance together,” said Martin.

“It isn’t all about bad luck, it’s about being in the right place at the right time and I think you make your own good luck a lot of the time.

“You learn every year you ride the Tour and I’ll take those lessons to next year because I want to end up standing on that podium on merit.”

Looking back at his efforts over the three weeks, Martin added: "It’s all just starting to sink in now. It’s always special finishing the Tour, but even more so today. I have really enjoying this year’s race and I’m a bit gutted it’s over. So now I am just looking forward to next year even more.”

Al Yabhouni said the two stage victories and Martin picking up the award and finishing in the top 10 in the final standings of the race won by Team Sky's Geraint Thomas was a proud achievement.

“The competition out there is really tough but we want to be right up there with the best,” he said.

“I have to mention we couldn’t have achieved what we have achieved within a very short period of time without the support of the rulers of our country. We dedicate this success to them and the people.

“We have an excellent team and want to thank each and everyone of them for the success we achieved in the Tour de France while looking forward to their continued support to achieve more this season.”

The UAE Team Emirates performance also came for some high praise from Major General Mohammed Khalfan Al Rumaithi, chairman of the General Authority for Sports.

“It is indeed a remarkable achievement for a team that was established only last year,” said Al Rumaithi.

“The success of the team is the success for the people of UAE. We are really proud of their achievement to see the UAE flag flying high in a world event.”