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Brandon McNulty looking for freedom and opportunities at Vuelta a España

ONDARROA SPAIN APRIL 09 Brandon McNulty of United States and UAE Team Emirates Yellow Leader Jersey during the 60th ItzuliaVuelta Ciclista Pais Vasco 2021 Stage 5 a 1602km stage from Hondarribia to Ondarroa itzulia ehitzulia on April 09 2021 in Ondarroa Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images
Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Brandon McNulty will race two Grand Tours in a single season for the first time in his career with the American set to tackle both the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España in 2022. While McNulty and the rest of the UAE Team Emirates squad will be stacked behind Tadej Pogačar in July, the American is pushing for his own chance – should circumstances allow it at the Vuelta.

The 23-year-old made his Tour de France debut in 2021 and was given a handful of chances in week-long stage races the first half of the season. He came within a stage of winning the Tour of the Basque Country before cracking on the final day but his solid ride at the Tour de France helped Pogačar claim his second title.

This time around, McNulty will target a number of week-long stage races in the first half of the season with special emphasis on the Volta ao Algarve and the Tour of Romandie.

“I’ll target Algarve and then I’ll do Paris-Nice and then Romandie and I’ll have some freedom, those are the big ones before the Tour. I’ll have to see how the year is going but at Romandie I’ll aim as high as I can,” McNulty told the cycling media during a press day at the UAE Team Emirates training camp in Spain this week.

“Obviously Tadej has won the Tour for the last two years so it’s all around him. Maybe there are some opportunities with the time trial but it’s all hands on deck for Tadej,” McNulty said in regards to the Tour de France.

Pogačar is pencilled in for the Vuelta too, and if the Slovenian is still in form then McNulty will have to ride as a domestique, but there’s a long season ahead and if McNulty is still fresh and Pogačar is tired from his Tour exploits then the American could push for more responsibility. 

“This will be the first year that I’ve raced two Grand Tours. Obviously, if Tadej comes in and is leading the Vuelta then you need to ride for the team but it would be nice to have more freedom. It’s at the end of the year and everyone is a bit more tired so we will have to see how things play out in the race. It’d be really great to have some opportunities.”

McNulty wants to keep on improving throughout the season and UAE Team Emirates have bolted on two more years to his contract in order to keep the talented American on their books for the coming years.

“I want to keep improving on my climbing abilities,” he said. “I don’t know if I would change much but I just want to keep improving on my climbing abilities. 

"I think my TT kind of really came in this year. With a little bit of improvement there I think I could be close to some victories. There’s some other stuff like the long mountains. I think I have some really good GC chances at the highest races.”

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Daniel Benson
Daniel Benson

Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at Cyclingnews.com between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.