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Cycling: Even Merckx was worse: Pogacar dominates the Giro

Cycling: Even Merckx was worse: Pogacar dominates the Giro

Only a fraction of all professional cyclists would be able to win the Giro d’Italia. For Tadej Pogacar, the triumph is more reminiscent of an intensive training camp.

After his next humiliation of the helpless competition, Tadej Pogacar bowed to the celebrating Tifosi and received the reward kiss from his fiancée Urska Zigart as the winner of the 107th Giro d’Italia. Before the final lap of honour in Rome, the Slovenian cycling star once again demonstrated his invulnerability on the last mountain stage and secured his sixth day’s victory. Not even Eddy Merckx had managed that in a single Giro.

“Perhaps the victory was not necessary today, but I wanted it for myself and my team,” said Pogacar. And if the 25-year-old wanted something in these three weeks of the Giro, he simply took it. An incredible 9:56 minutes separated Pogacar from second-placed Daniel Martinez, captain of the German team Bora-hansgrohe. There has not been a larger lead since 1965, and in the post-war period there were only three.

Next goal: Tour victory

But winning the Tour of Italy is only half the work for Pogacar. Just under half a year ago, the cycling prodigy announced that he wanted to try to win the Giro and the Tour. The last person to do so was Italy’s icon Marco Pantani in 1998, and nowadays such a task is actually considered impossible.

It was already clear before the start in Turin that Pogacar would probably win the Giro if he did not crash or get sick. After all, the rest of the world’s best riders were concentrating on the Tour de France. And so it was generally expected that Pogacar would go into management mode as soon as he had built up a comfortable cushion over the second-placed rider. A massive misconception.

The super-talented all-rounder from Komenda simply won as he pleased. “A victory is a victory, even if it is only by a second. In this Giro, it just happened that way,” said Pogacar. In the end, he simply wanted to finish the race with high morale and good legs. “It should be a good test for the summer. I managed that, so I am happy.”

Coach change in winter

The chances of a double have even increased after the Italian demonstration. Not only because of the condition Pogacar is in. The fact that his toughest competitors Jonas Vingegaard, Remco Evenepoel and Primoz Roglic all crashed at the beginning of April is also playing into his hands. Evenepoel and Roglic will start next week in the Dauphiné, the classic Tour dress rehearsal. It is completely unclear whether the two-time Tour winner Vingegaard will even be there.

After such a long injury break, it is questionable whether the Dane would have been up to the challenge. Pogacar seems to have made another leap in development, which actually seemed impossible given his qualities. In the spring, he won the difficult gravel race Strade Bianche with an 81-kilometer solo, and now he has triumphed in the Giro.

A change of trainer in the winter is said to have been the trigger for the next level of performance. After five years, Pogacar parted ways with Iñigo San Millán and switched to his Spanish compatriot Javier Sola. The latter has “Human performance” written on his profile on the X platform. “Human performance”. To the competition, this may seem rather alien. Or as Geraint Thomas, who at 38 years of age came in an impressive third place in the Giro, commented: “He is the best I have ever ridden with. It is insane how talented he is. In terms of physical ability, he is unique.”

Source: Stern

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