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As the winner of the 2018 Tour de l’Avenir, Tadej Pogacar entered the WorldTour in 2019 as a young rider with great potential. However, nobody expected what came next.
In February of 2019, Pogacar won the Volta ao Algarve, he went on to get 6th at Itzulia Basque Country, he won the Amgen Tour of California, the Slovenian national time trial title, and placed a stunning third place in the Vuelta a Espana.
In 2020, Pogacar enters the fray not as a young talent, but as a bonafide GC favorite. Racing the UAE Tour in the colors of UAE Team Emirates will come with no shortage of pressure or expectation, but the young star has proven that he can handle the weight of leadership. The UAE Tour will provide the first indication of what his second year in the WorldTour will bring.
Alexey Lutsenko’s season began under unfortunate circumstances. A leaked CADF report linked Lutsenko and teammate Jakob Fuglsang to banned doctor Michele Ferrari. The CADF later acknowledged the report did not contain sufficient evidence to pursue sanctions, and vowed to investigate the source of the leak. Lutsenko has not allowed the controversy to slow him down.
The Kazakh national champion looked relaxed and powerful in the recently concluded Tour de la Provence, finishing third overall in the mountainous season opener.
Lutsenko will be even better suited to the parcours at the UAE Tour, which features two gradual ascents of the Jebel Hafeet climb.
Adam Yates has been chasing a Tour de France victory since his fourth place finish at the 2016 edition of the race. Like many other 2020 Tour de France hopefuls, Yates will begin his season at the UAE Tour.
The Briton has not raced since Il Lombardia last fall — and has never raced in the UAE previously — so he remains a wildcard at this year’s Tour. That being said, he is not one to shy away from attacking when the road goes uphill, so expect to see dynamic racing from Yates in the finales of stages three and five. He may even have the legs to put sprinters under pressure on stage two’s uphill finish to Hatta Dam.
Valverde finished second overall to a flying Primoz Roglic in the 2019 edition of the UAE Tour. He returns in 2020 hoping to go one better.
Valverde’s fast finishing kick combined with his ability to go uphill with the pure climbers makes him uniquely suited to the UAE parcours. While he is not one to contest the messy bunch sprints, Valverde will almost certainly feature in every uphill finish, and remains a major threat to the overall.
The 27 year old German riding for Bora-hansgrohe had a breakout year in 2019, opening his season with a fourth place finish at the UAE Tour. He went on to place fourth at the Tour de France, third at the Critérium du Dauphiné and third at Itzulia Basque Country.
Buchmann has picked up in 2020 where he left off, already having won a UCI 1.1 in Spain ahead of Alejandro Valverde. Will he turn his podium streak into a win streak in 2020?