'Having a team like this gives you goosebumps': Pogačar credits team after UAE Tour triumph

Slovenian takes control of leader's jersey after stage four

Tadej Pogačar
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Tadej Pogačar paid credit to his UAE-Team Emirates teammates after his first victory of the season, saying that their efforts gave him "goosebumps".

The Slovenian triumphed on the Jebel Jais climb on Wednesday to take control of the general classification. He was paced into the final by João Almeida and Rafał Majka, and kicked in the final to take the sprint ahead of Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) and Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe).

The UAE Tour is Pogačar's first race of the season, and comes just weeks after he tested positive for Covid. There are no signs that the virus has greatly impacted the 23-year old, as his impressive sprint to win on stage four came after he finished fourth in the time trial on Tuesday.

“I always like to win, having succeeded makes this day beautiful for me and for the team," he said. "As a team we rode well, also trying to move with João and Rafal: the latter was the strongest climber of the group today.

"João and Rafal were also excellent in the final in launching me towards the sprint, the victory pays off all the work done in the past months, it’s great to start the season like this."

The only general classification rider to finish above him in the time trial, Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma), shipped over 5 minutes to Pogačar on the climb. However, Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) remained in contact, meaning the Slovenian only leads the Italian by two seconds, which were the result of his bonus for winning. 

"Despite all the attacks that followed one another uphill, I saw that practically all the big names of the race remained in the leading group, so I checked that we reached the final with the compact group, since I knew it would not be possible to go solo I decided to wait for the sprint."

Majka covered almost every attack that was made on the 20km climb, and was briefly up the road in a group before it was brought back.

"Already in training, even after recovering from Covid-19, the sensations were very good," Pogačar said. "But in the race everything can be different; the period of the illness was not so heavy for me thankfully. I had the support of the team, they helped me and gave me peace of mind: also for this reason, today’s result is the result of an overall work of the whole team. 

"Having a team like this gives you goosebumps."

The only serious test left for the general classification should be the stage seven climb to Jebel Hafeet, but Pogačar has triumphed there twice in the past, and so will Yates and Vlasov will find him hard to dislodge from the red jersey.

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