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Pogacar wins UAE Tour after Ewan claims closing sprint

Khaleej Times logo Khaleej Times 27/02/2021 Team KT
a man riding a motorcycle next to a body of water: Pogacar wins UAE Tour after Ewan claims closing sprint © Provided by Khaleej Times Pogacar wins UAE Tour after Ewan claims closing sprint

Having won the Tour de France in the Covid-19-hit 2020, UAE Team Emirates rider Tadej Pogacar made the perfect start to the new season with an emphatic victory in the UAE Tour on Saturday.

The 22-year-old Slovenian won his maiden UAE Tour title as Australian rider Caleb Ewan clinched the seventh and final stage of the competition in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

Pogacar's victory on Saturday could not have tasted sweeter, having beaten Adam Yates for the title after the British rider had got the better of him in the coronavirus-curtailed event last year.

"I feel super amazing. It's one of the best races, for sure, with a really good organisation, super good fans and support. I worked really hard for this, it's really amazing, we're happy and proud," Pogacar said at the post-event press conference.

The victory at the home event holds a special place in the heart of the UAE Team Emirates star.

"I feel so comfortable here in the UAE. Every time I come here it's like I'm home. It's hard to win this race, but everything is possible. We focused on this event and now we'll take it step-by-step this season," he said.

"We'll do Tirreno and then take a rest. We go race by race. The UAE Tour is great for the beginning (of the season) and I enjoy it. Every single victory will stay in my heart and is special to me."

Pogacar made his move for the overall leader's position in Monday's team trial before winning Tuesday's stage. The talented rider then held onto his lead to deny Yates his second straight win here in the UAE.

Now victory in the season-opener will inspire Pogacar and the team to produce more such performances in the next events.

"My form is good. It depends on the day and the weather. But I think we're well prepared. It's going to be hard though. There are a lot of good fighters competing against us," he said.

The Strade Bianche in Italy will be the next challenge for Pogacar.

"Strade Bianche is difficult, but I enjoy racing there. It's one of the best for me. After Tirreno, I'll do the classics, and prepare for the Tour [de France] and the nationals probably. I've got quite a busy schedule this year," he said.

Meanwhile, Lotto rider Ewan's sprint in the final stages of the race on Saturday helped him overcome Sam Bennett as the Irishman's bid to win his third stage this week failed.

"We came here to win a stage and there was only one more left to take," said Ewan after winning the first stage of the season.

"It was a bit of a relief when I crossed the line. I haven't been this far into the year without a win in my whole career.

"We came here knowing that it was gonna be four sprints and we've done three. And, obviously, the first stage, I wasn't there, the second stage I was there, but I had to do too much of an effort before the sprint to really be competitive.

"We had one more chance, today. And there's been a lot of pressure on me from the team to get the victory here. I felt it today, but I tend to perform well under pressure and I'm happy I got a win today. I think I'm stronger now than I have ever been."

The stage win was also Ewan's first since becoming a father.

"My climbing should be better... my sprint is better. I have two grand tours in my legs now. I should be better than I was the previous year. This is also my first victory as a father of two. And seeing my family tonight will be really nice."

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION

1 Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates)

2 Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) at 35''

3 Joao Almeida (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) at 1'02''

STAGE RESULT

1 Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal), 165km in 3h18'29", average speed 44.436km/h

2 Sam Bennett (Deceuninck - Quick-Step), s.t.

3 Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain Victorious), s.t.

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