Jonas Vingegaard’s victory in Stage 5 at the summit of Jebel Jais was a very comfortable one compared to the previous close finishes in the UAE Tour.
The Jumbo-Visma’s Danish rider sprinted clear in the final 100 metres to cross the finishing line ahead of General Classification leader UAE Team Emirates’ Tadej Pogacar and Adam Yates of Ineos Grenadiers for his and his team’s first success of the season on Thursday.
Vingegaard, 24, won the 170km stage in a time of four hours, 19 minutes and 8 seconds. Pogacar got up close to the finishing line to take second spot and maintain his overall lead.
The Jumbo-Visma rider broke away from the peloton to join Alexey Lutsenko, the long-time leader up the hill, with 600m to the finish line.
Having raced alongside the Astana–Premier Tech’s Kazakh rider, Vingegaard went clear in the final 100m. Lutsenko eventually faded behind the chasing pack to finish out of the top 10.
“I think I timed it quite well,” Vingegaard said. “I was thinking it was going a bit easy in the peloton at that point, they were slowing down a bit, and I was thinking maybe I can try.
“And then I saw him [Lutsenko] in front on the road. I think he did a last effort to keep me behind. Luckily, for me, I was able to catch up and also to beat him in the sprint. I’m very, very happy.
“It’s very, very big for me. It’s my first victory this season, I’m very proud of it. It’s the first victory of the season for the team.
“For me personally, it’s nice to show that I can be with the best. And also, I suffered a bit on the other day on the first climb so it’s nice for me to show that I have the level."
Sergio Higuita of EF Education-Nippo headed the chasing pack in the final kilometre, bringing Pogacar and Yates with him.
They came past the fast-fading Lutsenko within sight of the line, and Pogacar proved the best of the trio, crossing the line ahead of Yates and Higuita a further two seconds behind in fourth.
“I was more focusing on the GC guys than on the stage win today,” Pogacar said after increasing his overall lead by two seconds to 45 from defending champion Yates.
“There was a lot of riding into a headwind uphill today so it was hard to follow all the attacks. It was a great ride by Jonas Vingegaard.
“I'm glad I've retained the lead but I'll stay focused in the next two days. There are no more mountains, but I haven't won the UAE Tour yet.
“Tomorrow we will be riding in Dubai, it’s a special place and I am looking forward to it. The UAE fans are great and I enjoy riding here.”
The UAE Tour’s penultimate stage is the 165km section in Dubai, starting from Deira Island and finishing on the Palm.
The flat course will be another opportunity for the peloton’s fast men so keep an eye out for UAE Team Emirates’ sprinter, Fernando Gaviria.