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Pogačar in control of UAE Tour after winning queen stage atop Jebel Hafeet

The Slovenian continues his rivalry with Adam Yates

Photo by: Sirotti

Tadej Pogačar and Adam Yates have become UAE Tour rivals over the last couple of years, and on Tuesday’s queen stage of the race, the two did battle on the slopes of Jebel Hafeet, with Pogačar outfoxing the Brit in the final kilometer to take the victory and pad his lead atop the GC. He now leads Yates, last year’s titlist, by 43 seconds with four stages and one more summit finish remaining.

The Course

It was pan flat heading into the 10.6 km, 6.8 percent climb, but riders were wary about the winds, the race having been shredded by them on Stage 1.

Winning on Jebel Hafeet had been crucial to race since its beginnings in 2015. Every race winner had been first to the top save for Primož Roglič in 2019 when Alejandro Valverde was the mountain’s conqueror. Last season both Pogačar and Adam Yates won stages that ended atop Jebel Hafeet, but Yates took home the trophy.

An intrepid breakaway of Thomas De Gendt (Belgium/Lotto Soudal) and Tony Gallopin (France/AG2R Citroën) skipped away early and had a maximum gap of 7:00. When crosswinds came with 100 km to go, Yates’ Ineos team and Bora-Hansgrohe tried to split the peloton but to no avail.

Gallopin was the last of the escapees to be reeled in, the hard-charging, whittled-down peloton sweeping him up on the early slopes of Jebel Hafeet.

Poga’s UAE-Emirates dictated the pace, dropping Chris Froome and Valverde. Ineos took over and reduced the group to 11, including Sepp Kuss (USA/Jumbo-Visma), whose acceleration drew Pogačar and Yates.

Yates tried over and over to shed Pogačar, really putting the hurt on the race leader, but he only dropped Kuss; the Slovenian wouldn’t relent.

They entered the final kilometre together.

There was a little downhill section before the climb’s last hairpin. It was here that Yates eased off, giving Pogačar an opportunity to swing around him. The Tour de France champion then held off his rival for the victory.

João Almeida, Deceuninck-Quick Step’s Portuguese rider who lit up the Giro d’Italia last season, was only five seconds adrift of Pogačar at the start of the day. He’s now in third place on GC, coming in 28 seconds after the race leader.

Wednesday is one for the sprinters, if they don’t get blown all to pieces by the winds.

2021 UAE Tour, Stage 3
1) Tadej Pogačar (Slovenia/UAE-Emirates) 3:58:45
2) Adam Yates (Great Britain/Ineos Grenadiers) s.t.
3) Sergio Higuita (Colombia/EF Education-Nippo) +0:28

2021 UAE Tour GC
1) Tadej Pogačar (Slovenia/UAE-Emirates) 7:58:30
2) Adam Yates (Great Britain/Ineos Grenadiers) +0:43
3) João Almeida (Portugal/Deceuninck-Quick Step) +1:03