Tadej Pogacar extends his lead with victory atop Jebel Hafeet at the UAE Tour
Pogacar dueled with Yates who both attacked and put 48 seconds into Almeida to extend his race lead
The stage saw Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) and Tony Gallopin (AG2R-Citroen) breakaway and open up a gap of over 4 minutes until the peloton increased pace and reeled the two escapees in at the foot of the final climb.
UAE Team Emirates set the tempo at the head of the race with Ineos sharing the workload.
The Ineos surge saw fewer than 10 riders in contact, including Pogacar, Kuss, Uates, Almeida and Powless on the climb of Jabel Hafeet.
Sepp Kuss was first to attack, Pogacar and Yates went with him and Powless bridged across. Almeida, Buchmann and Sergio Higuita chased.
Adam Yates accelerated and only Pogacar could follow as Kuss, Almeida, Buchmann and Sergio Higuita were dropped.
Pogacar didn't come through to share the pace-making with Yates once they had dropped Almeida, but he acknowledged the significance of extending his lead over the Portuguese rider on GC. "It was important. When the gap grew, I wanted to keep the gap and I think Adam was thinking the same. In the end it’s super important that the gap is bigger," said Pogacar, who used his previous experience on Jebel Hafeet to good effect to outmanoeuvre Yates in the final 400 metres. "I knew exactly what I needed to do in the sprint. I started early because with the two corners, it’s hard for the guy behind to come past so it was an advantage to start the sprint first. It was super good."
Pogacar now has an overall lead of 43 seconds on Yates and 1:03 on Almeida. Chris Harper and Neilson Powless are the only other riders within two minutes on the general classification with four days remaining. The Slovenian’s position is commanding, but he insisted the race was not yet won. “No, there’s still four stages. Anything can happen,” he said. “There could be echelons and there’s still one more climb. It will be a hard battle until the end.”
Tadej Pogacar id afterwards: "We wanted a win, we got one. It was a really tough day, kind of stressful because there was a small chance of echelons again but the team did a super, super good job. We stayed in the right spots in all the race and the guys drove me to the bottom of the climb really good and then set the pace. All I had to do was respond to attacks. It was super hard but I’m super happy to win."
Tomorrow's stage 4 Stage 4 on Wednesday is a flat sprinter stage of 204km around Al Marjan Island. It visits its neighboring emirate Umm Al-Quwain along the way. The longest day in the saddle will be best suited to the sprinters thanks to its flat finish.
VIDEO: 2021 UAE Tour Stage 3 Highlights
2021 UAE Tour Stage 3 Top 10
1 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 03:58:35
2 Adam Yates (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
3 Sergio Higuita (Col) EF Education-Nippo 00:00:48
4 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
5 Harm Vanhoucke (Bel) Lotto Soudal
6 João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-QuickStep
7 Florian Stork (Ger) DSM 00:00:54
8 Neilson Powless (USA) EF Education-Nippo
9 Chris Harper (Aus) Jumbo-Visma 00:01:00
10 Geoffrey Bouchard (Fra) AG2R-Citroen 00:01:09
2021 UAE Tour GC after Stage 3
1 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 07:58:30
2 Adam Yates (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 00:00:43
3 João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-QuickStep 00:01:03
4 Chris Harper (Aus) Jumbo-Visma 00:01:43
5 Neilson Powless (USA) EF Education-Nippo 00:01:45
6 Mattias Jensen (Den) Trek-Segafredo 00:02:36
7 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain-Victorious 00:02:38
8 Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep 00:02:39
9 Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Cofidis 00:03:32
10 Fausto Masnada (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep 00:04:47