Abu Dhabi: UAE Team Emirates’ promoter Mauro Gianetti was all smiles on Sunday evening and why wouldn’t he be? His team had assured its new owners that they were not there just to make the numbers.
It was Gianetti’s dream to get a Professional Cycling Team to the Middle East and it happened, but at the 11th hour, as he managed to convince Abu Dhabi’s Matar Suhail Al Yabhouni to come on board.
From the team known as Lampre, for more than a decade, he retained the core riders following the take over and then the big financial boost came ahead of the home World Tour with Emirate Airlines coming on board.
It was a beginning for the better and the icing on the cake came with skipper Rui Costa stunning a field comprising Grand Tour stars to take the crucial Jebel Hafeet.
“I’m happy and proud at the same time. We represent a country and an entire region on the whole, so any success is special,” said a beaming Gianetti at the team dugout where his wards were gearing up for the final stage.
“All the staff felt it was a different success all together. Everyone was fighting to show they are good. Costa had tears in his eyes and everyone was so emotional,” added Gianetti, recalling that it was a very complicated situation four months back when the deal with Chinese bidder fell apart.
“I told Matar (the current owner) I have full confidence and this is a great opportunity but honestly I didn’t know that the riders would be performing at this level straightaway,” said Gianetti, who also revealed that the riders were more determined to prove a point.
“Costa thanked me and everybody for saving the team. There is tremendous bonding in team now. A sense that they have survived the rough and the want to impress from now on,” revealed Gianetti, who felt that beating the best of the lot has provided the much needed boost to the team.
“They know they can compete and win against any level in the field. This success will go a long way and now we can focus on the big event ahead in the calendar,” felt Gianetti, who lauded Costa for the tactical move he made during the Jebel Hafeet climb. “When Costa made that move I seriously thought he had given the charge early. It was a great move in the end and it is now about maintaining the same concentration to seal the title.”
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