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UAE Team Emirates' Slovenian rider Tadej Pogacar (left) wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey celebrates on the podium after winning the 7th stage of the 81st Paris - Nice cycling race, 143 km between Nice and Col de la Couillole, at Col de la Couillole, south-eastern France. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: On Stage 7 of Paris-Nice, Tadej Pogacar of UAE Team Emirates emerged victorious, beating his General Classification rivals David Gaudu of Groupama - FDJ and Jonas Vingegaard of Jumbo-Visma.

Pogacar’s well-timed attacks proved too much for Vingegaard, the 2022 Tour de France winner, as they approached the Col de la Couillole.

Pogacar retained the yellow jersey and extended his lead ahead of the final stage, earning bonus seconds in the process.

Tough battle

Pogacar described the stage as one of the toughest battles for the finish, and admitted his attack may have been a bit early, but he wanted to avoid having too many riders in the front. “For sure today was one of the toughest battles for the finish,” he said afterwards. “My attack was a bit early, but I didn’t want too many riders in the front, so it would be less stop-start. In the end it went perfectly how I imagined it.”

Despite the challenge, he was pleased that everything went according to plan. He also acknowledged that the upcoming final stage would be another really hard day, but the climbs were better suited to his strengths. “Tomorrow is another really hard day - I think the hardest of the whole Paris-Nice but the climbs are better for me tomorrow.”

Stage 6 of the race was cancelled, leading to an unscheduled rest day for the peloton. On Stage 7, a number of riders and teams attempted to take control, but the peloton refused to allow the breakaway to make much headway. Several riders, including Sam Bennett and green jersey Mads Pedersen, were unable to start due to a sickness bug that had affected the peloton.

Five riders

In the final 40km of the race, a 17-man breakaway group formed, which was eventually whittled down to five riders. Kobe Goossens of Astana Qazaqstan Team took the lead but was caught in the final 10kms as Pogacar and Vingegaard battled for supremacy.

Ultimately, Vingegaard could not keep up with the pace, and Pogacar powered across the finish line, with Gaudu finishing in second place, two seconds behind him. The race concludes on Sunday.