UAE Team Emirates rider Tadej Pogacar powers to Giro d'Italia win and takes overall lead

Slovenian looks in ominous form as he leaves rivals in wake on way to Stage 2 victory

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It has not taken long for UAE Team Emirates rider Tadej Pogacar to make his mark in this year's Giro d'Italia.

The Slovenian, who is bidding to become the first man to win the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France double since Marco Pantani in 1998, finished third after a sprint finish in Saturday's opening stage.

But pre-race favourite Pogacar made no mistake 24 hours later when he launched a powerful breakaway near the end of Stage 2's final punishing climb, surging clear with his trademark swagger.

It was a finish made all the more impressive when you consider the two-time Tour de France winner suffered a puncture 11 kilometres from the finish and crashed after a corner, right in front of his team car, which almost hit him.

His UAE Team Emirates teammates worked to get him back into the reduced peloton, with Rafal Majka the last teammate in line to set up his winning attack with 4.5km to go.

Key rival Geraint Thomas gave up the ghost after a short-lived attempt to keep up with Pogacar, who rolled into Oropa and took control of a race which already looks like his to lose.

Pogacar finished 27 seconds ahead of Daniel Martinez (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers), stripping the pink jersey for the lead in the general classification from Saturday's winner Jhonatan Narvaez.

Only two other riders are within a minute of Pogacar who looked in ominous form as he secured his first ever stage victory in the Giro.

It was also his eighth win in just 12 days of competitive racing this year that has seen him win three of his four races – including the Strade Bianche and his latest Monuments title in the Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

“I was only missing a Giro stage and this was one of my dreams,” said Pogacar, who now has stage wins in all three Grand Tours. “It's a big thing in cycling so I'm super happy.

“I just wanted to win today, test the legs a little bit. The dream was to win a stage and take the pink jersey. Now I can relax a little bit the next few days with the team, and we can stay safe in the sprints.

“I was quite calm, I just had a superfast flat tyre, and I think I broke the wheel,” Pogacar said of his tumble to the deck. “There was also a bit of confusion. I wanted to stop before the corner, not after the corner.

“The team said to me ‘after the corner, after the corner’ and I was confused a little bit, then I crashed. It was nothing serious.

“The team was super good today. They brought me back to the front and then we set a pace that we liked and it was perfect.

“I don’t know the climb well, and I think everyone else was the first time on this climb. It’s hard to guess where to do certain pacing but I think we did a really good job today. It was good with Rapha Majka on the super hard part, I could attack.”

Pogacar moved 45 seconds ahead of last year's runner-up Thomas, who is likely to be his main challenger, and Martinez. “Nothing new that, is it?” Thomas said. “We expected it. I was hoping to follow but I knew if I tried to keep going like that I would completely blow up.

“It’s OK for the second day … obviously Tadej is, well, he’s Tadej.”

This year’s Giro had an unusually tricky start – with most Grand Tours traditionally starting slow and steady – and Sunday saw the earliest mountain finish at the Giro since 1989 when the race began in Sicily and went up Mount Etna.

Monday’s Stage 3 sees the sprinters get their first chance of the race along the mainly flat, 166km route from Novara to Fossano. The Giro ends in Rome on May 26.

Updated: May 05, 2024, 5:07 PM