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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 April 2019

UAE Team Emirates rider Kristijan Durasek outlines twin objectives after 'emotional' appearance at Special Olympics

The Turkish cyclist has set his sights on reclaiming the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey title as well as a longer-term aim of qualifying for his third Olympic Games

Kristijan Durasek, left, during his visit to the Special Olympics. Courtesy UAE Team Emirates
Kristijan Durasek, left, during his visit to the Special Olympics. Courtesy UAE Team Emirates

UAE Team Emirates rider Kristijan Durasek has set two major objectives for the year. His immediate target is to regain the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey, which he won in 2015, and next is a long-term goal to qualify for a third successive Olympic Games in 2020.

The Croatian, 31, hasn’t had many races so far this year but expects a busy summer when the European season gets into full swing.

The 55th edition of the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey takes place from April 16-21, part of the UCI World Tour calendar for the third time.

“Much of my early work in the year is to prepare for the European season,” said Durasek after making a guest appearance at the Special Olympics World Games cycling event at Yas Marina on Sunday.

“My focus will be based on the team’s plan and the Tour of Turkey is one of them. Of course, I have competed in a few races already and will have a couple more ahead of Turkey.”

Durasek hasn’t given much thought to qualifying for Tokyo 2020, but insisted racing for the team will provide him with the opportunities to rack up world ranking points to help him achieve his objective.

“I enjoyed making it to the Olympics in 2012 and 2016, and a third appearance certainly is on my radar,” he said.

Durasek is also confident of the UAE Team Emirates achieving better results as the team continues to strengthen each year.

“The results are there to be seen every passing year and the team can only continue to move forward from the efforts that go into the development every year,” he said.

The UAE Team Emirates cyclist said he enjoyed his first appearance at a Special Olympics World Games and stated it was an experience of a lifetime.

“It was a great experience for me,” he said. “It was a really nice feeling to meet these athletes and share my experience as a professional athlete.

“I enjoyed watching them compete and enjoy the moments when they celebrated their achievements.

“I was there to encourage and motivate them. Speaking to them, I got emotional. I told them they must continue to participate in whatever sports they want to play regardless of the results.

“This is the best way to have fun, to express your joy on the sporting arena. It was so wonderful to see the happiness and joy on their faces when they were presented medals. It was so touching and I’ll remember this experience all my life.”

Updated: March 18, 2019 02:19 PM

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