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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 13 November 2018

Yousif Mirza determined to make up for Asian Games disappointments in Jakarta

Emirati rider, preparing for Binckbank Tour in Netherlands, mindful of having missed out on winning medal at Guangzhou 2010 and Incheon 2014

Emirati rider Yousif Mirza will have a busy few weeks, starting on Monday. Antonie Robertson / The National
Emirati rider Yousif Mirza will have a busy few weeks, starting on Monday. Antonie Robertson / The National

Yousif Mirza will compete in UAE Team Emirates colours one more time before turning his attention to the Asian Games later this month.

Mirza is preparing to have a go at the Binckbank Tour, starting on Monday in the Netherlands and Belgium, before he flies out to Jakarta for the Games. The 15-day competition gets under way in the Indonesian capital on August 18.

The idea is for the Emirati rider to slip back into competition mode following summer training in Europe.

“Everyone in the team has an objective for the year," Mirza said. "For me to win a medal at the Asian Games in Jakarta is my main goal."

He is particularly eager to make up for the missed opportunities at previous Asian Games.

“I have been dreaming about an Asian Games medal since my first appearance in 2010 [in Guangzhou, China],” Mirza, 29, said. “In 2014 [in Incheon, South Korea], I was sure I would win and again missed out on it. So this time I want to win.

"I think an Asian Games medal can make a huge difference for the sport here in the UAE.”

Meanwhile at the Binckbank Tour, Mirza will be tasked with providing support to Diego Ulissi, who will go into the stage race as the team leader. Ulissi is ranked second in the peloton for the annual tour.

He will also get help from fellow Italians Filippo Ganna and Manuele Mori, Ben Swift from the UK, Jan Polanc of Slovenia and Alexandr Riabushenko, the young Belarussian rider.

“The rider with the skills that can most likely make it to the top part of the classification is Ulissi,” said Daniele Righi, the team’s sports director. “He proved to be in good shape last weekend in the [Spanish race] Clasica de San Sebastian.

"[So is] Riabushenko, a young rider with excellent potential for this type of race."

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The riders will play to their strengths: true to his name, Swift will look to exploit the faster stages, while Polanc will be ready to show his strength should there be any breakaways.

"The time trial will take place on a route that isn’t ideal for Ganna. However, he will provide valuable back-up for his teammates during the tour, along with Mori and Mirza, who is coming off a period of training with his national team,” Righi pointed out.

"He spent several days riding on the track, focusing on work that should help him find the right pedal stroke to lead out Swift in the approach to the sprints. He will also be giving his usual support to the entire team during each individual stage."

The Binckbank Tour, in its 13th edition, is famed for its undulating terrain, short steep hills and cobbled sections, giving it the feel of a Spring Classic in the summer months. This year’s seven stages will feature four flat routes, an individual time trial and two hilly courses.