Martin and Kristoff lead UAE Team Emirates for the Tour de France

'It's really a race of two halves and the first nine days will be very tricky'

Dan Martin has been confirmed as team leader for UAE Team Emirates at the Tour de France with European champion Alexander Kristoff targeting the sprint finishes.

As a result, the eight-rider UAE Team Emirates lie-up includes riders to help Kristoff in the first part of the three-week Grand Tour, and riders to back Martin’s overall bid. Named in the Tour de France team are Marco Marcato, Rory Sutherland and Roberto Ferrari, young rouleur Oliviero Troia, and climbers Darwin Atapuma and Kristijan Durasek. Former world champion, Rui Costa is not in the squad after being slowed by a knee injury. 

Fabio Aru had already confirmed he will not ride the Tour de France after quitting the Giro d’Italia. He is expected to return for the Vuelta a Espana.

Martin finished sixth overall in the 2017 Tour de France, while riding with Quick-Step Floors, despite riding for 12 stages. The Irishman moved to UAE Team Emirates for 2018 and has built his season around targeting the overall classification at the Tour de France. He finished fourth at the Criterium du Dauphine, winning the first mountain stage to Valmoral and taking second 24 hours later in La Rosière.

“Since I signed for Team UAE the big goal has been the Tour de France.” Martin said when the team was confirmed.

“I plan to take the race day by day, stage by stage and try to achieve the best results possible. It’s really a race of two halves and the first nine days will be very tricky bringing different challenges each day, but I’m confident we have a great team that can get me to the mountains in a good position to have a bit of fun. Everything has gone well since the Dauphine and I’m just looking forward to getting started.“

Kristoff has won four sprints so far this season, including the recent GP du canton d'Argovie. He struggled in the spring Classics but could be a contender for the key cobbled stage to Roubaix and in any of the eight possible sprint finishes.

“This is the biggest race in the world.” Kristoff said. “The event where you get all the best cyclists, the best sprinters. I am going to France determined to get the best result possible and, if possible, a stage victory.”

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