Tadej Pogacar’s demonstration of power

Tadej Pogacar’s demonstration of power
The Slovenian has shown the winning pose often recently.

ROME. As a young boy, Tadej Pogacar stood with his dad at the side of the road at the Alpine passes to cheer on the heroes of the Giro d’Italia. “That made me dream of winning this race myself,” said Pogacar before the start of the 107th edition in Turin. Three weeks later, the Slovenian arrived in Rome yesterday evening as the clear winner – with a whopping 9:56 minutes lead over second-placed Daniel Martinez. No one has won this Grand Tour with such a large lead since the Italian Vittorio Adorni in 1965. That was not the only reason why the UAE captain’s dominant performance was spectacular.

On Saturday, Pogacar once again impressively showed who was boss in the final mountain stage, which went over Monte Grappa twice. He attacked from the rear wheel of his helper Rafal Majka on the second crossing of the Dolomite pass and once again outran the rest of the competition. After his sixth stage win, he received a reward kiss from his fiancée Urska Zigart after 184 kilometers in Bassano del Grappa. “I wanted to end the Giro with a good impression. I think I managed that,” said Pogacar, who also won the mountain jersey to top it off, afterwards.

Good impression? Rivals at the Tour de France at the end of June must be scared. Pogacar wants to be the first rider since Marco Pantani in 1998 to achieve the Giro/Tour double, and then make a difference at the Olympic Games and the World Championships. Experienced rider Geraint Thomas, who came third this time after second last year behind Pogacar’s fellow countryman Primoz Roglic, praises the exceptional rider: “He is the best I have ever ridden with. It is insane how talented he is. In terms of physical ability, he is unique.” But talent and hard work are one thing, and that is not the only reason Pogacar is a great champion. Despite all his ambition, he always remains relaxed. “He is a great person and doesn’t take himself too seriously,” says his UAE team-mate, Felix Großschartner from Marchtrenk.

The fact that his toughest Tour competitors Jonas Vingegaard, Remco Evenepoel and Roglic crashed at the Tour of the Basque Country in early April will probably play into his hands in a few weeks. Evenepoel and Roglic will start on Sunday at the Dauphine in France, the classic Tour dress rehearsal.

Pogacar, who changed coaches before the season and is now working with Spaniard Javier Sola, can take a breather. After the Giro, the 25-year-old wants to leave his bike in the corner for a week and relax in his adopted home of Monaco. This will be followed by three weeks of high-altitude training camp in Isola 2000 in the French Maritime Alps before heading to Florence for the start of the Tour.

Großschartner as victory helper

Of Upper Austria’s three Giro participants, only Großschartner was really visible. As one of Pogacar’s most important helpers in the mountains, he played a part in the success and was able to celebrate with the team in Rome. Rainer Kepplinger (Bahrain), making his debut in a major national tour, and Tobias Bayer (Alpecin) were rather inconspicuous over the three weeks due to their water-carrying duties.

As expected, yesterday’s final stage was once again a matter for the sprinters. Tim Merlier took the win.

107th Giro d’Italia: Final score: 1. Pogacar (Slo) UAE 79:14:03 hrs., 2. Martinez (Col) Bora +9:56 mins., 3. Thomas (Gb) Ineos +10:24; also: 31. Großschartner (Ö) UAE +1:56:06; 64. Kepplinger (Ö) Bahrain +3:23:14; 86. Gamper (Ö) Bora +4:14:4596. Bayer (Ö) Alpecin +4:25:27

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