Tadej Pogačar narrowly snuck past Alexey Lustenko at the line to take stage honours on day five of the UAE Tour 2020.
As the peloton took on the 10km Jebel Hafeet climb for a second time in this edition, the overall favourites once again battled it out for the win.
But Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) showed his determination and threw his bike past Lutsenko to take the stage.
Yates finished comfortably with the leaders to hold onto his general classification lead.
How it happened
The fifth stage of the 2020 UAE Tour was a return to the familiar slopes of Jebel Hafeet, as the course was redesigned last minute because of roadworks.
After Adam Yates took victory and the race lead on the 10-km climb, it was a chance for those who missed out on stage three to redeem themselves.
The opening 140km of the stage almost completely flat, before the road ramped up into the seven per cent average gradient, with a maximum of 10 per cent.
Racing opened up with five riders jumping into the day’s breakaway, as they had a good chance of surviving to the line.
James Knox (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), Larry Warbasse (Ag2r La Mondiale), Tosh Van Der Sande (Lotto-Soudal), Andrea Garosio (Vini Zabú-KTM) and Cristian Scaroni (Gazprom-RusVelo) made up the move, gaining almost five minutes on the peloton early in the stage.
The peloton slowly began to close that advantage with a very quiet middle section following.
Finally the break hit the foot of the climb with just over two minutes on the bunch, and the group fell apart almost immediately as Knox attacked solo.
The remains of the break disappeared down the road as the Brit paced himself along.
As the peloton hit the climb, the race split immediately, with the favourites hitting the front early.
With 5km to the summit, Knox held around a minute over the chasers as Adam Yates, Tadej Pogačar, Alexey Lutsenko, David Gaudu, and Ilnur Zakarin rose to the top again.
Pogačar was first to attack again, with Yates comfortably following with 4km to race and even riding at the front.
Knox was finally caught by Pogačar, Yates, Lutsenko and Gaudu with 3.5km to race and the Quick-Step rider was passed and dropped quickly, setting up the overall favourites in a battle for the line.
Pogačar launched a string of testing attacks, with Yates easily matching him, Lutsenko and Gaudu also holding their own while Zakarin looked to be struggling.
Then 2.5km from the line Yates fired an enormous attack and immediately distance his rivals, and once again Pogačar was the only rider strong enough to put in a chase.
A sudden surge from Gaudu brought the five strongest riders back together once again, as Pogačar, Gaudu, Yates, Zakarin and Lutsenko all made it into the final together.
At the final left-hand turn, Lutsenko led the sprint with Pogačar on his right and Yates boxed in against the barriers.
Lutsenko looked to have the race won as he held off Pogačar but he slowed at the line to prepare his celebration, while the Slovenian kept on the power and surged past right at the line.
Yates still leads with 1-01 on Pogačar, with just two flat stages remaining.
UAE Tour 2020, stage five: Al Ain to Jebel Hafeet (162km)
1. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, in 3-48-53
2. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana
3. Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott, all at same time
4. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 4s
5. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) CCC Team, at 7s
6. Davide Formolo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates, at 23s
7. Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar, at same time
8. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Sunweb, at 24s
9. Victor de la Parte (Esp) CCC Team, at same time
10. Rafał Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 27s
General classification after stage five
1. Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott, in 20-35-04
2. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, at 1-01
3. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana, at 1-33
4. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 1-48
5. Rafał Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 2-11
6. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Sunweb, at 2-34
7. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) CCC Team, at same time
8. Davide Formolo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates, at 2-39
9. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates, at 2-47
10. Victor de la Parte (Esp) CCC Team, 2-51