Zakarin will be vying for a top five on the General Classification while gauging his early season form, General Manager and Sports Director Piotr Wadecki said.
“We are looking forward to seeing Ilnur Zakarin race for CCC Team for the first time at UAE Tour. He has raced well in the past when it was Abu Dhabi Tour and last year, he finished seventh on the Jebel Hafeet stage. Ilnur will be focused on finishing in the top five on the General classification, especially with the two uphill finishes which are suited to him,” Wadecki explained.
“Jakub Mareczko will be our card to play on the flat stages and after his performance in Provence, his morale is high and he is ready to make the most of the sprint opportunities. With Jan Hirt and Víctor de la Parte for the climbs, and Kamil Gradek, Pavel Kochetkov, and Francisco Ventoso for the flat terrain, we are bringing a diverse team in support of our leaders and I think we can expect some nice results.”
Zakarin climbed to second place on the Jebel Hafeet stage in 2017 at the Abu Dhabi Tour, which again features on stage five of UAE Tour, and secured second overall.
After an extended off season and recent altitude training block in Teide, Zakarin is looking forward to making his debut with CCC Team.
“This season in general consists of mixed emotions. On one hand, everything is the same, I am still doing what I love and what I’ve been doing for all my life. On the other hand, everything is new. The off season was nice, I spent pretty much all of the with my family and with my kids, but it was also very productive on the road. I arrived in Teide, 2200 meters above sea level, with Pavel Kochetkov one month before UAE Tour and after 16 days there, I am ready and motivated to race. So, I am both excited and really calm at the same time ahead of my first race, I just want to show what I can do. I know the Jebel Hafeet climb well and I’ll do my best to ride aggressively,” Zakarin said.
Mareczko is looking to build on his form after narrowly missing the win on stage one of Tour de la Provence.
“I’m excited to race at UAE Tour because there are quite a few opportunities for sprinters. I have taken a lot of confidence from my second place in Provence as I know my legs are good so it was nice to see that reflected in the race. UAE Tour always attracts a strong field of sprinters but I hope I can get a good result,” Mareczko added.
UAE Tour (23-26 February)
Rider roster: Víctor de la Parte (ESP), Kamil Gradek (POL), Jan Hirt (CZE), Pavel Kochetkov (RUS), Jakub Mareczko (ITA), Francisco Ventoso (ESP), Ilnur Zakarin (RUS)
Sports Directors: Piotr Wadecki, Marco Pinotti
📷 Getty Images