UAE Tour: Bennett wins Dubai stage; Pogacar maintains lead

Riders cross the finish line at the Palm Jumeirah. (UAE Tour Twitter)
Riders cross the finish line at the Palm Jumeirah. (UAE Tour Twitter)

Dubai - Pogacar, who retained Red Jersey as the overall leader, is on the verge of winning his first UAE Tour title



By Team KT

Published: Fri 26 Feb 2021, 9:28 PM

Last updated: Fri 26 Feb 2021, 9:40 PM

Sam Bennett came up with another superlative display as the Irish rider won the Dubai stage – the sixth and the penultimate stage of the UAE Tour – on Friday.

On a day when His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, greeted and encouraged the riders as they headed towards Burj Khalifa, Bennett completed his second stage win of the third edition of the UAE Tour.

The Irish rider got the better of Italian ace Elia Viviani and German Pascal Ackermann on Friday, while Tadej Pogacar of the UAE Team Emirates kept the overall leader’s red jersey.

“It’s down to my teammates and the very fast bike that I’ve won two bunch sprints out of two. The guys are very experienced and the more sprints we do, the more it’s becoming like second nature. We started the run-in really smooth. I’m delighted I could finish the job,” said Bennett after reaching the finish line at the Palm Jumeirah.

“In the finale, I saw Ackermann on the right then I knew I had a strong guy behind me. So I said to myself: ‘don’t leave it too late’. Then I realised it was the green jersey behind me. But I just focused on my own sprint. I came out at the right time.”

Confirming his early season form, Bennett, who cried after his first Tour de France stage win last season, can bag a hat trick of wins on Saturday on the seventh and final stage which also looks perfect for his strengths.

“Tomorrow, a hat trick would mean a lot. I really wanted to start the season well. Now I have the confirmation that what I was doing at training was just right. I’m really proud to get two stages here,” he said before revealing his ambitions for future events.

“Looking ahead, Milan-Sanremo is always at the back of my mind. This time, I really want to be good, to get over the Poggio and sprint for victory. Before that, we’ll have Paris-Nice which is another race with a lot of history. I really want to perform there also,” he said.

But at this UAE Tour, it’s Pogacar that is holding the aces as the Slovenian kept the red jersey going to Saturday’s final stage.

The Tour de France winner goes into stage seven with a 45sec lead on last year's champion Adam Yates with Portuguese rookie Joao Almeida in third at 1min 12sec.

"There were some hard moments with the crosswind, but our team did a good job keeping me safe. We were together throughout the stage. I’m happy this is over. We did the sprint (together) with Fernando Gaviria. I’m not that kind of guy that gives orders around, but we have a lot of riders who are still more experienced than me and I trust them completely. I don’t have to worry about anything, I just ride my bike. It’s a good team," Pogacar said.

Speaking about Gaviria’s fifth-place finish on Friday, Pogacar said: “This is a sign that he’s coming back. Tomorrow he has one more chance and will feel more confident he can do a really good sprint again. 5th is quite good among really good sprinters, so I think he’s coming back.”

Meanwhile, four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome failed to finish with the main pack and crossed the line 2min 27sec down on the day.

"I feel stronger every day," Froome had said on Thursday of his bid to get up to speed after coming to Dubai straight from rehab in California.

The 35-year-old insists he was not here to win but to start his preparations for the Tour de France in June.

He is 41st in the overall standings here, 19min and 5sec behind Pogacar. (with inputs from AFP)

STAGE RESULT

1 - Sam Bennett (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) 165km in 3h32’23”, average speed 46.613km/h

2 - Elia Viviani (Cofidis), s.t.

3 - Pascal Ackermann (Bora - Hansgrohe), s.t.

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION

1 - Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates)

2 - Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) at 45''

3 - João Almeida (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) at 1'12''


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