UAE Team Emirates
UAE Team Emirates is an Emirati road bicycle racing team. The team is a member of the UCI ProTour, and has been since the tour was formed as the top category of road cycling in 2005.
However the team was temporarily suspended from the ProTour in 2010, missing one ProTour event.
The team consists mostly of Italian riders: general manager Giuseppe Saronni was himself a famous professional cyclist and winner of 2 editions of the Giro d’Italia.
Following the tradition at Saeco, the team is well known for its publicity stunts. In the 2005 Giro d’Italia the team engaged in a press campaign Battaile d’Italia featuring their co-captains Gilberto Simoni and Damiano Cunego. During a rest day of the Giro, the team elected to visit the Monza race track for a photo-op and some training sessions.
For the 2013 season the team will no longer be using Wilier bikes, but will now ride Merida bikes. Although Wilier had been contracted through to the end of the 2013 season, they cited that Lampre broke the terms and conditions of the contract, and terminated their technical sponsorship.
In August 2016 the team confirmed that its WorldTeam licence was being transferred from CGS Cycling to Chinese company TJ Sport Consultation, with the team becoming the first Chinese WorldTour team from 2017. Former Saunier Duval–Prodir team manager Mauro Gianetti was announced as the co-ordinator for the project. In an interview with Gazetta dello Sport the following month, Saronni confirmed that he and CGS Cycling would continue to manage the team on TJ Sport’s behalf, and that the team’s bicycles would be supplied by Colnago. He indicated that the project was being co-ordinated by the Chinese government via TJ Sport with involvement from a number of Chinese companies including Alibaba, and that its aim was to develop Chinese cycling and riders. However when the UCI awarded 17 WorldTour licences to teams in November, it announced that TJ Sport’s application was “under review” by its Licensing Commission. According to Saronni, the reason for the delay was that the head of the TJ Sport project, Li Zhiqiang, had fallen seriously ill, which prevented funding for the project from being confirmed.
As a result, the team looked elsewhere for sponsorship, securing funding from the United Arab Emirates and changing its name to UAE Abu Dhabi. The UCI confirmed the team’s WorldTour licence on 20 December. In February 2017, the team announced that airline Emirates had signed on with the team as a naming-rights sponsor. The team will subsequently be known as: UAE Team Emirates. In June 2017, two days before the 2017 Tour de France the team announced it would also be sponsored by the First Abu Dhabi Bank, an amalgamation of the First Gulf Bank and the National Bank of Abu Dhabi, with their logo being added to the chest and side of the team’s jersey.