For the second time in a row, Tadej Pogačar became the winner of the UAE Tour! The icing on the cake was set by Slovenian’s new victory on the final stage at the top of Jebel Hafeet.
The Slovenian ace paved the way towards a new UAE Tour title in the first half of this one-week race. In Stage 3 he did a great job at the Time Trial and later conquered the entire competition in Stage 4 with a long finish climb at Jebel Jais. More about these achievements can be found here.
Bad timing for a puncture
The flat, Stage 5 expectedly belonged to the sprinters once again. Surprisingly, Tadej Pogačar also attracted a lot of attention. In the fight for the bonus seconds at the intermediate sprint, the race leader was ready to accelerate and follow the attack and thus remained in the leaders’ group. He ended up winning two bonus seconds at the intermediate sprint, thus consolidating his overall lead in the race.
A late scare for the UAE Team Emirates and Tadej Pogačar appeared late in the race, as his tire was punctured less than 7 km before the finish. Tadej had to change his bike and consequently lost contact with the peloton, which was picking up the speed towards the finish line. Fortunately, with the great help of his teammates, Tadej managed to close a gap of more than 20 seconds in the last kilometers. Pogačar crossed the finish line together with the main rivals with the time of the winner and thus defended the overall lead and kept the red leader’s jersey for another day.
In Stage 6 everything seemed prepared for another battle of the best sprinters. Surprisingly, they misjudged the gap of the breakaway group of 5 riders, who ended up fighting for the win. On the flat stage, which led past many of Dubai’s sights, Tadej calmly crossed the finish line together with the main competitors, thus maintaining the advantage in the general classification before the decisive, final stage.
D-Day with the ascent to the place of happy memories for Tadej Pogačar
Before the decisive, last stage, Tadej Pogačar had a 17-second advantage over his main competitor Adam Yates. The 148 km long Stage 7 ended with a 10.9 km long ascent on Jebel Hafeet (average gradient 6.8%). Tadej has very nice memories of this ascent, as he has twice celebrated a stage victory atop this climb. Last year he beat Adam Yates atop of Jebel Hafeet at the very end. The duel of the mentioned duo was expected to go down once again on the final ascent. We didn’t have to wait for long to find out that their duel once again lived up to all the expectations.
The pace on the decisive final climb was most of the time dictated by the UAE Team Emirates, resulting in a big drop of riders from the leading group. About 3km to the finish line, Adam Yates launched an attack. Only Pogačar was able to follow the attack of the British rider. Later on, Almeida and Bilbao managed to join the leading duo. Entering the last kilometer, Yates attacked once again and dropped all the followers but Pogačar. In the last few 100 meters, we witnessed a replay of last year’s duel. The Slovenian ace attacked vigorously and gained a few meters of advantage before the last, very technical turn towards the finish line. Pogačar crossed the line with his hands high in the air, proving the status of world’s number one. The Slovenian ace won a red jersey for the overall victory and a white jersey for winning the Youth classification.
“I’m so happy to take the win here for the third time. I guess it suits me well, it’s a really hard climb but then in the end there’s a bit of tactical play always.
I was in the [overall] lead ahead of him so I didn’t need to attack, I just had to follow. We all know his attacks are one of the best in the world. At one moment I was really suffering but luckily Adam also slowed down a bit, so it all went perfectly for me.
It’s really important, a really big goal for us as a team. It’s the first race of the season but for us it’s one of the most important races so I’m super proud and happy.”