UAE Emirates rider Tadej Pogacar took a major step towards victory in his team’s “home” UAE Tour after winning the seven-day race’s first climbing stage on Tuesday to strengthen his hold on the overall lead.
Yates took the battle to Pogacar with a series of accelerations on the way up the 10km, 5.4 per cent gradient Jebel Hafeet climb.
Only Pogacar could follow Yates as the other contenders dropped away due to Yates’ relentless attacking.
The Slovenian sat on Yates’ wheel and then skipped away from him over the final 400m to win in a time of 3:58:35.
Colombia’s Sergio Higuita (EF Education-Nippon) finished third, 48 seconds behind.
Pogacar, who started the stage with a five second lead over Joao Almeida (Deceuncink-Quick-Step), increased his overall lead with his victory.
He now has a 43-second lead over Yates, with Almeida, who finished sixth in the same time as Higuita, now third at 1:02.
Speaking after his stage win, Pogacar said, “We wanted a win and we got one. It was a really tough day and kind of stressful because of the echelons again.
“But the team did a great job. They set the pace and all we had to do was to respond to two attacks. It was super hard but I’m super happy to win.
“The UAE Tour is not won overall yet. A lot can happen in the last four stages,” he warned.
Wednesday’s stage four will see the riders cover 204km around Al Marjan Island.
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