Dubai: It was a day to cherish for the UAE Team Emirates as young Tadej Pogacar emerged victorious in the fifth stage of the ongoing UAE Tour with a stunning display on Jebel Hafeet mountain on Thursday.
With the experience of stage 3 under his belt, Tadej Pogacar responded to a series of attacks from General Classification leader Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and then attacked himself to distance a select group of riders that formed on the 10km climb. They were joined by David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) and Alexey Lutsenko (Mitchelton-Scott) as all were locked in combat - desperate for the stage win trading constant attacks unable to create a gap between themselves.
When one went, the other followed hot on their wheel to the finish line where Pogacar just edged out rival Lutsenko with a bike throw at the line in an important win on home soil for the team.
Sven Erik Bystrom and Davide Formolo each pulled the peloton up the Jebel Hafeet ascent as the whole team worked to position Pogacar as well as they could.
An overwhelmed Pogacar said: “It was an amazing win. On the climb I tried to attack over five times, but I saw Yates was strong so I played it smart and waited for the sprint. I started the sprint quite early because I knew the last corner was crucial. We took the corner side by side but I kept fighting and pushing until the line. I saw the gap in the last metres and I threw the bike and won in the end. The whole team worked perfectly today. This was my first big goal of the year and a home win for the team which is really incredible.”
In addition to the stage win, Pogacar also retains the white jersey for the best young rider and pulls back six seconds on Yates - thanks to the stage winner’s time bonus with two flat stages left to race.
Yates said: “It’s pretty much mission accomplished. I would have loved to win but in the end it is what it is. I fought the right guys. I still have the leader’s jersey so it’s a good day. It was the same climb as two days ago so it’s not a surprise to have the same four guys at the front. Pogacar is impressive. He’s young so we’ll see him winning races again.”
Friday’s penultimate stage sees the riders head to the desert with a 158 km route, starting from Al Ruwais and finishing in al Mirfa. A sprint finish is expected and Fernando Gaviria will be looking to follow in Pogacar’s footsteps with another stage win on home soil for UAE Team Emirates.
1. Tadej Pogacar, 162km in 3h48’53”, average speed 42.467km/h
2. Alexey Lutsenko s.t.
3. Adam Yates s.t.
1. Adam Yates
2. Tadej Pogacar at 1’01”
3. Alexey Lutsenko at 1’33”