UAE Team Emirates manager Joxean Fernández Matxin has told the Spanish press that he has ambitions for his team to be the best in the world in "one, two, or three years' time", but admits that it will be no easy task up against the likes of Team Ineos and Jumbo-Visma.
Leading the headlines in the past 24 hours is the news that four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome will move from Ineos to Israel Start-Up Nation next season, which clearly also raises the Israeli WorldTour team's ambitions, adding yet another rival into the mix for UAE Team Emirates.
"Within a realistic time frame, we're going to try to be the best team in the world," Matxin told Spanish cycling website Biciciclismo.com on Thursday, "but I don't know if that will be within one, two or three years' time. It'll be difficult, and we have to respect our rivals, like Team Ineos, who've been the best for a long time, and have a large structure, while Jumbo-Visma have been growing in leaps and bounds.
"We know it will be difficult, but you also have to set important goals in order to try to achieve them," he said.
The team wants to hit the ground running when the major races recommence at the end of July, hoping to pick up the 2020 season where they left off before competition was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic. At the start of the year in Argentina, sprinter Fernando Gaviria won three stages at the Vuelta a San Juan, while Tadej Pogacar won two stages and took the overall title at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana in February, and a stage and second overall at the UAE Tour later that month.
Juan Sebastian Molano also took three stage victories at the Tour Colombia 2.1 in February, while new signing Brandon McNulty impressed with a strong showing at the Vuelta a San Juan, where the 22-year-old American climber finished fourth overall.
"Over these next four months, we want to be protagonists," said Matxin. "We want to be competitive in each of the races in which we're going to participate."
The Emirati WorldTour team's main goal, however, will be the Tour de France – rescheduled for August 29-September 20 – with Fabio Aru as its leader, while fast-rising star Pogacar, who was recently crowned the Slovenian time trial champion, will race his first Tour, and could well be in the mix on the GC.
"Aru will be the main leader because he is the one with the most experience," Matxin said of the 30-year-old Italian who won the 2015 Vuelta a España and finished second at the Giro d'Italia the same year.
"Pogacar is a bit more of an unknown, but the goal is for him to learn and to see how far he can go, without any pressure on him," he said.
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