The 2019 racing season may be over but a number of major teams are already looking toward 2020, with the UAE Team Emirates gathering in the Gulf state to plan ahead and enjoy some team building activities. The riders and staff are getting to know each other through activities such as go-kart racing, paintball games and a visit to the Abu Dhabi Louvre museum and Ferrari World.
Fernando Gaviria ended his 2019 season last week at the Tour of Guangxi in China and flew directly to the UAE before heading home to Colombia for the winter. Fellow sprinter and Classics rider Alexander Kristoff is already working for 2020 after enjoying his holidays in Crete.
UAE Team Emirates have already confirmed the names of 29 riders on their 2020 roster, with new signings including Italian national champion Davide Formolo, Team Ineos' David de la Cruz, Gaviria's preferred lead rider Max Richeze, the USA's Brandon McNulty and Joe Dombrowski, double under-23 world time trial champion Mikkel Bjerg and Italian talent Alessandro Covi.
Dan Martin has left for the Israel Cycling Academy but Fabio Aru and Tadej Pogačar remain for stage races, along with Rui Costa, Diego Ulissi and young Belgian sprinter Jasper Philipsen. Pogačar showed his talent by winning the Tour of California and finishing third at the Vuelta a España on his Grand Tour debut. Aru suffered in the Spanish Grand Tour after making a rapid recovery from surgery to treated constricted iliac artery to finish 14th at the Tour de France.
Gaviria ended the 2019 season with six victories but suffered with a knee injury and missed the Tour de France.
"In some ways we're ahead of schedule because looking at the rankings, were already the fourth best team in the world," team manager Mauro Gianetti told La Gazzetta dello Sport after the get-together.
"Of course, if we look at individual performances, we expected more from Aru and Gaviria in 2019, while Pogačar talents have exploded sooner than we expected. Fabio and Fernando are the first to be disappointed but we've still got faith in them for the future.
"Aru really wanted to ride the Tour de France. The staff believed he had the form to do it and he finished 14th, which is pretty good considering his problems. His goal was the overall classification at the Vuelta a España but he came down with the cytomegalovirus.
"Is 2020 the last chance for him? In one way that's true, but on the other, let's hope not. Often for Fabio responsibility has proven to be a weight on his shoulders."