Czech teenager Mathias Vacek won the sixth and penultimate stage of the UAE Tour in Dubai on Friday.
Vacek, 19, edged Paul Lapeira and a handful of other riders, including two of his Gazprom teammates, who had launched a breakaway shortly after the start in Dubai. It marked a first professional victory for the young Czech who was European junior time trial champion in 2020.
“I still can’t believe I’ve won,” said Vacek at the finish. “It’s amazing, I’m still really young at 19 years old, so this victory means so much to me.”
The peloton lumbered in 15 seconds behind the winner.
“We started the stage normally, but it was quite a hard pace all day,” said red jersey holder Pogacar, who won here in 2021. “The breakaway played the game well and had enough in their legs to push the last 15km and they made it. It’s nice to see the breakaway win, I was surprised.”
The Slovenian holds a four-second lead over Ineos rider Filippo Ganna as the riders head to Saturday’s final stage, a 148-kilometre ride which ends with the 10.9km climb (at 6.7 percent) of Jebel Hafeet.
“Tomorrow is the most exciting day but it will be the hottest day of the whole week,” said Pogacar. “We’re ready to defend the jersey and we’re not too stressed.”