Tadej Pogačar has been handed a 10-second penalty heading into the final stage of the UAE Tour.
The Slovenian star is currently leading the Middle East stage race, the first men’s WorldTour event of the year, with just one sprint stage remaining.
Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) was penalised by the race jury after the conclusion of stage six for pushing another rider, having 10 seconds stripped from his race lead over Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers).
In the jury communication issued after the finish of stage six, the jury announced that Pogačar and his team-mate Jan Polanc had both been issued fines of 200 Swiss Francs (£157), were given a four-point penalty in the points classification, and each was penalised 10 seconds in the general classification, both for pushing another rider.
The jury did not reveal which riders were pushed or where on the course the incident happened.
Now Pogačar has a 35-second advantage over his British rival, which should in theory be a safe margin on the flat roads of stage seven in Abu Dhabi.
But the unpredictability of the desert racing could potentially throw up some surprises, if crosswinds start to batter the peloton on the final day of racing.
Stage seven from Yas Mall to Abu Dhabi Breakwater is the shortest road stage of this year’s UAE Tour and follows a route along the coast of the United Arab Emirates.
While the course may not be guaranteed to offer up some echelon racing, the unpredictable conditions in the emirates could decide the winner.
The 2021 edition of the race opened with a bang as crosswinds split the peloton to pieces on stage one, with Pogačar, Yates and Joâo Almeida (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) holding the front of the race as other general classification contenders lost time.
Speaking after the finish stage six, Pogačar said: “We're now one more day closer to the finish, I’m really happy how it ended up today since it was hectic in the middle of the race with the crosswinds. Luckily, we managed to stay all together so it was a sprint day. Tomorrow, I hope it’s a similar day. I felt quite good after yesterday’s uphill efforts. I’m not worried about my shape. I just want to avoid any stress tomorrow."
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