With the route completely flat until the bottom of the ten-kilometer climb up to the finish line, which the peloton first visited on stage three, a five-rider breakaway was given the freedom to go clear after an initially aggressive start to the race.
At the 100-kilometer to go mark, the leaders had extended their advantage out to more than six minutes 30 seconds and this gave the peloton the motivation it needed to start to pick up and the pace and steadily pull the leaders’ advantage back to a manageable two minutes at the start of the climb.
Just like on stage three, the gradient immediately took its toll with riders quickly dropping off the back of the bunch as those vying for the stage win and positions on the General Classification started to apply pressure to the front of the field.
Zakarin and de la Parte worked well together over the first half of the climb before an even small group of favorites, including the Russian rider, was drawn out at the front of the race and, after the final rider from the breakaway was caught, it was clear that this would be group battling for the day’s honors.
While the other riders began to play games, Zakarin continued to ride his own pace bringing himself back into contention after every burst of acceleration and even showing his own strength by pushing off the front of the group when he rejoined them.
In the end, the race came down to a sprint to the line which was narrowly won by Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Team Emirates) while Zakarin, who showed today that his early-season strength is continuing to build, crossed the line seven seconds back after some small gaps opened up in the final meters of the day.
This result saw Zakarin jump up the General Classification and he now sits seventh overall, around two minutes 30 seconds behind race leader, Adam Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT), while de la Parte now rounds out the top ten overall after continuing to work hard behind the final five riders to eventually cross the line on stage five in ninth place.
Quotes From the Finish Line:
“This is only the first race of the season so it’s a bit too early to be able to say a lot about what my condition is like looking ahead to my bigger goals but today was a nice day. The first time up Jabel Hafeet on stage three was not good, probably just my body adapting after the altitude camp before UAE Tour, but today was much better. I feel like I am on the right track towards good form. I really want to thank the team for the enormous amount of help they gave me and for their teamwork. I am super happy and proud to be a part of a team with these guys.”
Víctor de la Parte:
“The team did a great job today just like they have done all week and we were able to stay out of trouble and avoid any problems in the crosswinds section. I was feeling really good on the mountain, already better than on stage three, so I tried to stay on the wheel of the favorites for as long as possible for me. I think I did both Ilnur and me did a good job on the climb today and to have both of us sitting in the top ten overall at this point is nice.”
Stage 5: Al Ain > Jebel Hafeet (162km)
Top 3: 1. Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates) 2. Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Pro Team) 3. Adam Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT)
CCC Team Top 3: 5. Ilnur Zakarin 9. Victor de la Parte 38. Pavel Kochetkov