Gazprom rider Mathias Vacek won stage six of the UAE Tour after a thrilling finish in Dubai, which saw the 19-year-old secure the victory and his biggest career win to date.
There were six riders up front as the race headed into the final 3km, with Vacek and his teammates Dmitri Strachov and Pavel Kotsjetkov in contention.
Meanwhile, Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè duo Johnatan Canaveral and Alessandro Tonelli were also in the running, alongside Paul Lapeira from AG2R-Citroën.
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A grandstand finish to the race was expected, with this the fourth and final sprint race before Saturday’s mountain finish to complete the tour.
That was exactly what happened, as Vacek was the fastest out of the breakaway group, with Lapeira crossing the line in second, while Strachov took third place.
This penultimate stage of the UAE Tour started and finished at the Expo 2020 Dubai site, and saw the 140 riders race through 180km through some of Dubai’s glitziest landmarks.
The race was certainly a scenic one, as it took in Dubai Sports City, the Silicon Oasis Meydan Racecourse, Palm Jumeirah and the Jumeirah Islands, before the race reached its climax at the Expo.
It certainly favoured a sprint approach in an absorbing race that saw six riders slip away early, with the gap growing to nearly five minutes and settling to around two minutes.
None of the breakaway riders were a general classification threat, allowing some of the others to simply watch and let the sprinter teams do all the work.
The race got interesting in the final 10km, with five danglers clinging on with more than a minute. That lead took a huge hit though in the final kilometre, with the riders nursing a slender lead. Vacek then went onto to triumph to claim a monumental World Tour win.
Tadej Pogacar still leads the GC after stage six with a time of 22:16:02, while Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) and Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe) are four and 14 seconds further back respectively.
The final standings will be decided in the seventh and final stage on Saturday, when riders complete a 148km run from Al Ain to Jebel Hafeet, in what is set to be a pulsating mountaintop finish to the tour.
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