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Tadej Pogačar survives late puncture to keep lead at UAE Tour

The UAE Tour race leader suffered a rear flat with just over six kilometers to go but raced back on before the finale.

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Tadej Pogačar survived a late mechanical issue to retain his race lead at the UAE Tour on stage 5.

The Slovenian, who took the race lead Wednesday atop Jebel Jais, suffered a rear puncture with just over six kilometers remaining.

Pogačar then had to wait as a UAE Team Emirates mechanic retrieved a spare bike from the team car before he could get back on the road.

“There was no reason to panic, it happens. I believed in Mikkel [Bjerg] and he brought me back and the other guys waited for me. They did a good job again, so I wasn’t stressed at all,” Pogačar said after the stage.

“Alpecin today really great and they were attacking the whole stage. We were present every attack with the team, so once again teamwork and we were with 35 riders at the bonus sprint and I saw the opportunity to take some bonus seconds.”

Pogačar started the day with just a two-second advantage over Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) after the Italian put in an impressive ride on the Jebel Jais summit finish. He doubled his advantage by taking two bonus seconds at the intermediate sprint, but his advantage over Ganna was still slim.

With the peloton preparing for a bunch sprint, Pogačar had his work cut out to get back to the bunch and salvage his race lead.

Despite the high pace, Pogačar was able to race back to the bunch in the space of two kilometers and was safely within it as Jasper Philipsen raced to his second stage win.

Pogačar will have to contend with another flat stage Friday before the second summit finish of the race on Jabel Hafeet on Saturday.