Alexey Lutsenko said he “did not make any mistake in the final” after he was beaten by Tadej Pogačar on stage five of the UAE Tour 2020.
Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) triumphed after a tense battle on the slopes of Jebel Hafeet, during the second ascent of the climb in this year’s edition of the WorldTour race.
>> Get an extra 5% off the discounted price of a magazine subscription this weekend with the code SPOOKY5. Enjoy the luxury of home delivery and never miss an issue <<
Astana rider Lutsenko sprinted from the final turn at the summit and looked to have the race sewn up, but he slowed at the line as he raised an arm in celebration, allowing his Slovenian rival to sneak past and take the stage.
Speaking after the stage, Lutsenko said: “Of course, I feel disappointed because I was really close to a stage win today.
“But at the same time I know that I didn’t make any mistake in the final and I gave my all in that sprint, so I have no regrets.
“I’ve never experienced that before, but today after crossing the finish line I fell down completely exhausted. I did my maximum today, I did not win but I can be proud with my performance on this climb.”
The final of stage five came down to a fight between five riders – Lutsenko, Pogačar, Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) and Ilnur Zakarin (CCC Team.
But it was Lutsenko, Yates and Pogačar who proved themselves the strongest as the trio sprinted for the line.
Yates found himself boxed in, while Lutsenko look to have taken the stage with a strong sprint, but Pogačar’s determination saw him steal the win in the closing moments.
Sports manager at Astana, Dmitriy Fofonov, said: “Alexey did a phenomenal stage and his performance on the last climb was impressive. He is still looking for his first stage win of the season, but I am sure that with the form he has now and the with the way he is improving, he will get it soon.”