Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) successfully defended his UAE Tour title with a resounding victory on stage seven’s summit finish.
The 23-year-old, who also won a mountaintop sprint on Jebel Jais on stage four, held off two attacks from Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) to win the race’s red jersey for the second time.
Yates claimed the runner-up spot, with Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-Victorious) in third. The Spaniard rose four places in the overall standings, overtaking Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe) who was unable to hold the pace on Jebel Hafeet.
Jasper Philipsen’s impressive sprint victories on stages one and five ensured he took home the green jersey, while breakaway stalwart Dmitry Strakhov (Gazprom-RusVelo) cemented his ownership of the black jersey.
How it happened
Stage seven offered the shortest road stage of this UAE Tour at 148km in length.
Starting in the city of Al Ain, the riders would head north on a flat figure of eight circuit, before climbing to the summit of the iconic Jebel Hafeet. The 10.6km-long mountain road, set at an average gradient of 6.6%, is known for being decisive at the UAE Tour and promised to play host to this year’s final GC showdown.
On smooth desert roads, the day’s racing began at full tilt. The fight for the breakaway saw seven riders escape up the road: Michael Scharzmann (Lotto-Soudal), Daryl Impey (Israel-Premier Tech), Joris Nieuwenhuis (Team DSM), Clément Davy (Groupama-FDJ), Michael Mørkøv (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), Gianni Vermeersch (Alpecin-Fenix) and Kaden Groves (BikeExchange-Jayco). The riders clocked an electric average speed of 50km/h for the first 80km.
A prime at the stage’s halfway point showed there was little interest in energy-sapping sprints. Mørkøv was allowed to roll over the line uncontested at the front of the group. The gap to the peloton then stretched out to over three minutes and Impey, at least momentarily, became the virtual leader on the road.
Before long, the stage’s flat preamble was over, and the race reached the foothills of Jebel Hafeet - the jagged limestone peak that winds up through the Martian landscape. The breakaway hit the lower slopes of the climb with a 50-second advantage over the peloton and was quickly roped back in.
Bora-Hansgrohe’s attempts to set the pace were ousted by George Bennett, Rajał Majka and João Almeida of UAE Team Emirates, who took charge on the front. Their plan to thin the peloton worked and with 4km to go, the group was reduced to the GC contenders and their trusted mountain domestiques.
A little over 3km from the summit, Adam Yates made the first move. The Ineos Grenadiers rider, who started the day with a 17-second deficit on Pogačar, stood tall on the pedals and powered into the climb, but was unable to distance the race leader.
Behind them, Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) and João Almeida followed, both taking turns to counter once the pace relented.
As the group of four passed under the flamme rouge, Yates launched a last-ditch dig for victory. Pogačar, wise to the Brit's move, followed his wheel with ease and tucked in behind. The race would come down to a two-up sprint.
Still seated, the Slovenian came round the right side of Yates and kicked down on the pedals. When Pogačar rose out the saddle towards the finish line, Yates sat down, and the UAE Team Emirates rider was able to savour the moment as he claimed victory for his team at their home tour.
Many predicted this race as a foregone conclusion. Pogačar proved them right.
UAE TOUR 2022, Stage Seven: Al Ain > Jebel Hafeet (148km)
1. Tadej Pogacar (Svn) UAE Team Emirates, in 3-20-24
2. Adam Yates (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, at 1s
3. Pello Bilbao (Esp) Bahrain-Victorious, at 5s
4. João Almeida (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at 15s
5. Lucas Plapp (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers, at 16s
6. Carlos Verona (Esp) Movistar, at 16s
7. Rajał Majka (Pol) UAE Team Emirates, at 16s
8. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 30s
9. Geoffrey Bouchard (Fra) AG2R Citroën, at 53s
10. Chris Harper (Aus) Jumbo-Visma, at 53s
General Classification after Stage seven
1. Tadej Pogacar (Svn) UAE Team Emirates, in 25-38-16
2. Adam Yates (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, at 22s
3. Pello Bilbao (Esp) Bahrain-Victorious, at 48s
4. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 54s
5. João Almeida (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at 55s
6. Carlos Verona (Esp) Movistar, at 1-17
7. Rajał Majka (Pol) UAE Team Emirates, at 1-24
8. Geoffrey Bouchard (Fra) AG2R Citroën, at 1-46
9. Romain Bardet (Fra) Team DSM, at 1-46
10. David de la Cruz (Esp) Astana Qazaqstan, at 1-58
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