Aru is in his first year with the team but disaster struck at May’s Giro d’Italia, where he was forced to abandon the race
Aru, 28, is in his maiden 12 months with the team but disaster struck at May’s Giro d’Italia, where he was forced to abandon the race.
It was subsequently decided that he would not feature at the Tour de France nor defend his Italian national road race title in the aftermath of what had been a difficult start to life after leaving Astana.
Aru attended a decisive meeting with the UAE Team Emirates management in the wake of the Giro – where he won the young rider classification on his way to second place overall in 2015, having come third at his home race the previous year.
Aru returned at the recent Tour de Wallonie where he finished 10th and is now in Poland as he looks to put another good performance together in the hope of salvaging his season at the Vuelta a Espana – where he was champion three years ago.
“After the problems I had at the Giro d’Italia, I stayed away from competition for about two months,” revealed Aru, with medical tests and a review of the Italian’s training after the Giro showing he suffers from a gluten and dairy product intolerance.
Aru also admitted that he spent far too long training at altitude, pushing himself deeper than his body wanted.
“I got back into the game with the Tour de Wallonie where I felt good. Now the Tour de Pologne will be an important test. The last times I’ve participated I’ve always had a nice time in Poland. From a technical level the routes are good and the crowds are always exceptional.
“The Tour de Pologne was already on my schedule in the beginning of the season and now it will be an essential step on the way to the Vuelta a Espana and even consideration in the World Championships.
“It is definitely a race from which to start over and face the end of the season on the right foot.”
The Italian champion last rode in the race in that successful 2015, achieving a fifth-place finish.
This year, the UCI WorldTour stage race forms part of Aru’s preparation for the Vuelta, beginning on August 25, and features favourable hills for the skilled climber.
Joining Aru on the tour, which started on Saturday, are Italian team-mates Valerio Conti, Edward Ravasi and Simone Consonni, alongside former world champion Rui Costa, Sven Erik Bystrom and Polish rider Przemyslaw Niemiec.
The team will be guided by an Italian duo of sports directors, Daniele Righi and Mario Scirea.
“I will arrive in Poland having regained a good racing rhythm in the Tour de Wallonie,” added Aru.
“The route for the Tour of Poland is well suited to my skills and could help me find an even better pedal stroke. There are four climbing fractions; it would be nice for the team and for me to manage to obtain some significant results.
“The team line-up features some excellent climbers, so we can aim for some satisfying achievements. This is also an important event in consideration of the Vuelta; it is a crucial step in preparing for the Spanish race.”
As it reaches its landmark 90th edition, the 2018 Tour de Pologne is sticking to a tried and tested formula of punchy uphill stages that go deep into the country’s southern mountains to decide the seven-day race.
The 1,075km event is a long one. With no individual or team time trial and where the crunch stages are often decided in short, uphill finishes, the Tour of Poland is set to be even more unpredictable and exciting than ever before.
It is a race of two halves, with bunch sprint finishes expected in the initial three stages and the GC battle to be contested in the later mountain segments.
The first two stages go through the city of Krakow, and then from Tarnowskie Gory to Katowice, which are very similar to last year and include the iconic 900m descent to the finish line.
The second half of the race heads into the central part of the Carpathian mountains and will culminate in fiercely fought duels on the punchy ramps around the mountain towns of Zakopane and Bukowina.
The last day’s racing is going to be challenging, featuring an on-going series of short, steep ascents on technical country roads across a 66km circuit.
It finishes in a brutal hill-top finish at Bukowina Tatrzanska, where thousands of local cycling fans are likely to line the route and keep the atmosphere charged until the race ends.