Denmark’s Jonas Vingegaard triumphed on the fifth stage of the UAE Tour as Slovenia’s Tadej Pogacar extended his overall race lead at Jebel Jais.
A seven-man breakaway group formed on the 170-kilometre mountain stage from Fujairah City to Jebel Jais.
The key man in the move was Kazakhstan’s Alexey Lutsenko, who earned a solo stage victory at last year’s Tour de France.
Lutsenko sought to achieve a similar victory on Jebel Jais, as the 28-year-old attacked from the breakaway with 17 kilometres remaining of the final climb.
The general classification group gradually closed on Lutsenko as the summit approached, with Vingegaard launching a late attack.
The Jumbo-Visma rider made contact with Lutsenko in the final kilometre, with the Danish rider overtaking to seal a stage victory in a time of 4 hours, 19min, 8sec.
"It was a very emotional win for me," Vingegaard said.
"It's been almost two years since my last victory.
"Our tactic this morning was for Sepp Kuss to attack within the last three kilometres while I was supposed to wait for the sprint.
"However, it became clear that it wasn’t going to finish with a sprint as the finale unfolded, and I saw an opportunity to go.
"I’m just really happy that I took the opportunity and now I have the stage victory."
Pogacar finished as the runner-up at three seconds down, ending on the same time as defending champion Adam Yates of Britain.
Lutsenko would ultimately finish in 11th place at eight seconds down.
Pogacar’s advantage over Yates in the general classification now stands at 45 seconds, with only two flat stages remaining.
"The most important thing was to defend the jersey and I really managed that," Pogacar said.
"In the next two days, we need to stay focused, because anything can happen.
"We need to be careful and hold the red jersey safely all the way to the finish line."
Racing will continue tomorrow with a 164km flat stage from Deira Islands to Palm Jumeirah.
The International Cycling Union (UCI) WorldTour race is scheduled to conclude on Saturday (February 27) with a 147km stage from Yas Mall to Abu Dhabi.