Winning my first World Tour stage as a professional cyclist is something I have dreamed of since I can remember. It’s what dragged me out of bed every single morning, motivated me to train to my maximum every single day, and stay disciplined throughout my life to continually strive towards that first victory. On September 11th 2022, that dream came true. La Vuelta. Stage 21. Madrid, Spain.
I remember vividly feeling really strong that morning. The blood was pumping, the muscles were relaxed, and I was in an extremely clear and focused headspace. As a professional sportsman, you often search for that zone where you feel invincible. A place of physical, mental, and emotional harmony where nothing can affect your mindset. It was an incredible place to be, and I had a feeling I could produce a strong performance and place one of our riders on the podium, in what was the final stage of the Grand Tour event.
The tactics were clear and straightforward; I would give my all as the lead-out man to put Pascal (Ackermann) in the best possible position to make a charge to the line. I attacked with 300m to go in the race, knowing full well that Mads Pedersen of team Trek-Segafredo was hot on my heels and waiting to strike. I knew I had to maintain my pace to stay out front or so that Pascal could come around the other side to take victory. I had to keep pushing and amazingly found myself in a position to take the win. To this day, I still cannot believe it. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would win that stage. Crossing that finish line and the emotions that followed is something I’ll never forget. I dedicated the win to my mother and my family for all the sacrifices and support they’ve given me over the years. I wouldn’t be here without them.
As well as my personal success, the Vuelta was incredible for all of us in the team. Winning the Team Classification was an amazing achievement, highlighting the incredible team spirit and strength in depth that we possess. As a group, winning the team classification is extra special because it simply wouldn’t be possible without each rider contributing across the tour. We battled for each other, we sacrificed for one another, and ultimately we were rewarded by basking in our team’s success with one another. It was a truly memorable experience and something which that group will cherish for the rest of our careers. 7 podiums with 2 stage wins. Brilliant.
Aside from the Vuelta, it’s been an incredible season for us. With 44 race wins and 99 podiums in total thus far, we are well on track for our best ever season. The atmosphere throughout the year has been amazing. From the first training camp to crossing the line at the Vuelta, I have felt a togetherness and commitment from every rider and member of our coaching staff that I’ve yet to experience in my career. This is so crucial to us as cyclists because we have such incredibly different yet equally important roles in the team. Whether you’re a climber or a lead-out man, a sprinter or a domestique, the team’s success is reliant on each doing the best job that they possibly can. This year our team spirit has shone through and is the reason behind so many wonderful results.
Lastly, I want to thank all of our UAE fans for their continual and unwavering support throughout the season. No matter where we are in the world, we are constantly aware of the support you give us, which acts as our motivation to succeed in the tough moments, whether it be in training or in races. I can’t wait to come to the UAE in October and meet our fans to thank them for their support.