UAE Tour: Astana’s Lutsenko is 2nd in super close final atop Jebel Hafeet climb
NUR-SULTAN. KAZINFORM The Kazakh champion Alexey Lutsenko finished second in a very close uphill sprint finish atop Jebel Hafeet climb, which ended the fifth stage of the UAE Tour.
The Astana rider launched a very strong sprint, passing the last corner on the first position, but missed just a little to win the stage being passing by the Slovenian Tadej Pogačar right on the finish line. However, thanks to this performance Alexey Lutsenko protected his third position in the general classification of the race, the Team’s official website reads.
«Of course, I feel disappointed because I was really close to a stage win today. But, in the same time I know that I did not do any mistake in the final and I gave my all in that sprint, so I have no regrets. I’ve never experienced that before, but today after crossing the finish line I fell down completely exhausted. I did my maximum today. It is a pity I did not win, but I can be proud with my performance on this climb. I felt much better today than two days ago, when I suffered from the heat, so I could show a better result on the climb. I’ve got some record numbers on the climb and I feel like I am improving in this start of the season,» said Alexey Lutsenko.
«The stage was not easy because of the wind and in a moment I had to stop to change my bike after a mechanical, and later I had to spend some energy to come back in the group. I would like to thank my team for a huge support both today and during the whole week. We have a climbing roster in this race, but notwithstanding this the guys day by day are doing a fantastic job for me. Also today, my teammates were always next to me helping in the most difficult moments. At the bottom of the climb they moved me up there in front, placing on a good position. Indeed, a stage win was a goal, but in the same time I had to protect my podium place, so I had to keep an eye on Gaudu and Majka. Gaudu was very strong today and I had to answer to many attacks to protect my position in the general classification. I am happy to keep my third place after this super hard day. Well, the race is not over yet and for sure we will have stressful stages in the next two days. But with the help of the team I hope to reach the final podium here in UAE,» continued Alexey Lutsenko.
«Alexey did a phenomenal stage and his performance on the last climb is impressive. He is still looking for his first stage win in the season, but I am sure, that with the form he has now and with the way he is improving, he will get it soon. Once again, the team did a great job, protecting Alexey from a crosswind. A few teams tried to do something, but, finally, the peloton could stay all together until the last climb. We can be happy with the way we did this stage, and we are looking forward to the last two days at the UAE Tour, we will do our best to protect Alexey’s position in the general classification,» added Dmitriy Fofonov, sports manager of Astana Pro Team.
«Alexey did a perfect climb, he did it on his own rhythm. He never answered immediately to the attacks, but always followed the rivals by his regular pace. It was a key today. He did this climb with a cold head and big brave. We knew this climb quite well, so we had a plan for Alexey, and he realized it perfectly! It was a very solid performance, and we all can be happy and proud. Indeed, a stage victory would be really nice, but anyway his results in this race are very promising if we talk about his seasonal goals,» said Maurizio Mazzoleni, head trainer of Astana Pro Team.
Once again as it was two days ago, Jebel Hafeet climb provided a perfect scenery for the battle of the race favorites. After a few strong attacks a group of 5 leaders went away clear with Alexey Lutsenko among the leaders. The Kazakh champion was able to answer to all attacks of Adam Yates, Tadej Pogačar, David Gaudu and Ilnur Zakarin. The group came all together to the finish, where the stage win has been played in an explosive uphill sprint.
The Britton Adam Yates still leads the general classification of the UAE Tour after stage 5, Tadej Pogačar is second, +1.01, while Alexey Lutsenko is third, +1.33.
Stage 6 will be held today 158 km from Al Ruwais to Al Mirfa.