Al Ain: In one of the most impressive finishes to a hill climb, Adam Yates pulled clear of his rivals on the steep ascents of Jebel Hafeet to win the third stage of the 2020 UAE Tour by a little over a minute yesterday.
The 27-year-old Mitchelton Scott rider is making his 2020 season debut in the UAE Tour and his performance over the 184km ‘Emirates Stage’ has made him favourite to win the second edition of the race.
Yates was unstoppable once he decided to make a dash for the finish with 6km left, breaking from behind UAE Team Emirates young star Tadej Pogacar, Astana’s Alexey Lutsenko and Groupama FDJ’s David Gaudu.
Pogacar didn’t bother at the start leaving Lutsenko and Gaudu to chase after Yates, but he was left to rue that call afterwards as he could only catch the chasers, while the Briton kept building on his lead all the way up.
At the end of it Yates pumped his chest with both hands as he crossed the finish alone clocking 4:42:33. Pogacar pedalled in 1:13 later with Lutsenko, Gaudu and Rafal Majka riding in together a further 27 seconds adrift.
“It’s my first race of the season, so it’s difficult to know how everyone’s going,” said Yates, who was fourth in the general classification at the 2016 Tour de France.
“I just really wanted to test my legs and see where I am, so I attacked maybe a little too early, but in the end I felt good. There were a few guys who started to come up and I could see behind they started to get organised and there was a bit of a chase, so I just committed, and if they came back they came back, but in the end I felt good and managed to stay away.”
Yates’ overall time after three stages is 12:30.02 and he was surprised at the distance he was able to put between himself and Slovenian Pogacar, who now lags by 1:07 overall. Lutsenko is 1:35 behind. Yates, who took over the Red Jersey from Caleb Ewan, said: “A minute is a lot, but we have to do this climb again on Thursday (during Stage 5), and maybe my legs won’t be so good then.
“Also, tomorrow, I heard a rumour there are going to be crosswinds, so we’ll see. I’ve got a good group around me and I’ll try and hold onto the lead as long as possible.”
Ewan holds the Green Jersey for the General Points classification as he leads with 36, with Black Jersey incumbent (Intermediate Sprint) Veljko Stojnic second with 29 and Yates third with 23.
Pogacar topped the young riders summit and kept the White Jersey with his time of 12:31.09, with Gaudu second 33 seconds adrift and Team Ineos’ Edward Dunbar a further 26s behind.
Today’s fourth stage is a flat run over 173km run starting at Zabeel Park and culminating at Dubai City Walk.
The author is a sports journalist based in Dubai
Stage 3 Results
1. Adam Yates (GBR) Mitchelton-Scott 4h42’34”
2. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) UAE Team Emirates +1:03
3. Alexey Lutsenko (KAZ) Astana +1:30
General Classification Results
1. Adam Yates (GBR) Mitchelton-Scott 12h30’02”
2. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) UAE Team Emirates +1:07
3. Alexey Lutsenko (KAZ) Astana +1:35