Marc Hirschi is set to make his long-awaited debut for UAE Team Emirates at the Volta a Catalunya on Monday. The race runs March 22-28 and has a stellar field that includes Chris Froome (Israel Start-Up Nation), Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers).
The 22-year-old hasn’t raced since his shock move from Team DSM at the start of the year. He was meant to race the UAE Tour in February but spent almost the three months of the year on the sidelines.
His last race came in Liège-Bastogne-Liège last year, where he was second behind Primož Roglič of Jumbo-Visma but overall 2020 was a huge breakout season for the rider from Switzerland. He won a stage in the Tour de France on his debut and followed that up with third in the world championship road race in Italy and a win in La Flèche Wallonne.
Hirschi was part of the Team DSM presentation at the start of the year but has his contract terminated by the team. They were unwilling to specify the exact reasons for the sudden decision, only stating that they had ended the relationship a year before the rider’s contract was set to expire. There were murmurs that the team were unhappy with aspects surrounding the athlete but these were never confirmed and Hirschi was unwilling to state why he departed.
"Team DSM has reached a settlement agreement with their rider Marc Hirschi to terminate their present employment before the original end date of 31 December 2021. It has been agreed that the agreement will be terminated with immediate effect and that no further comments will be made," read the DSM statement.
Speculation mounted as to where Hirschi would wash up but UAE Team Emirates announced his signature just four days later with the rider joining a team that already included Tour de France winner Tadej Pogačar, Alexander Kristoff and Davide Formolo.
The Volta a Catalunya will be Hirschi’s first race for the team and he is expected to also race Pais Vasco and then a full calendar of Ardennes Classics.
“I think it’s a very exciting team we’re bringing,” team manager Matxin Fernandez said in relation to the squad for Catalunya.
“After the great success of Pogačar in Tirreno-Adriatico last week the team is as motivated as ever to go out and do a good race in Catalunya. We have huge quality in the squad with a mix of young talents alongside more experienced guys.
“With the depth of the riders we have here we’ll aim for the GC, but we will also be challenging for wins on every stage possible. This will be the first time we’ll see Marc Hirschi racing in the UAE colours. We’re hoping that he can achieve great things with us. With his class and talent for sure it strengthens the team.”
UAE Team Emirates for the Volta a Catalunya: Camilo Ardila, David De La Cruz, Joe Dombrowski, Rui Costa, Marc Hirschi, Brandon McNulty, and Sebastian Molano.
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