Tadej Pogacar seals sensational Giro d'Italia stage win and again extends overall lead

UAE Team Emirates rider increases advantage by more than three minutes with six stages to go

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UAE Team Emirates rider Tadej Pogacar produced a devastating performance to win Stage 15 of the Giro d'Italia and extend his overall lead by more than three minutes.

The Slovenian had been the dominant force going into Sunday's 222-kilometre run from Manerba del Garda to Livigno and he obliterated his general classification rivals with a memorable ride that means the race is now his to lose with six stages remaining.

Having extended his lead on Saturday in a time-trial, this fresh triumph elevates him to overwhelming favourite after a day on which the men closest to him in the rankings had no answers.

Pogacar underlined his climbing credentials in the Italian Alps in what is the longest and arguably toughest stage of the race, which involved an altitude gain of 5,400 metres.

The two-time Tour de France winner attacked on the climb and chased down leader Nairo Quintana and overtook the Colombian with 1.9km to go before winning his fourth stage of this year's race by 29 seconds.

“I was angry with him,” joked Pogacar about the veteran Colombian. “This is a guy who never attacked and I was thinking why is he attacking now.”

Quintana, who won the 2014 Giro, finished second with Georg Steinhauser third, more than two and a half minutes behind the winner.

Pogacar is now a huge six minutes 41 seconds ahead of Ineos Grenadiers rider Geraint Thomas with Bora-Hansgrohe's Dani Martinez a further 15 second back with one week to go.

“Today was one of the best days – I would not say that it was the best day of my career but it was a really nice stage, really good route, nice climbs,” Pogacar said. “The team did a super good job. We had this stage in mind since December or whatever.

“I’m super happy that we kept it under control. It was a really strong breakaway, but I gave it my all in the 10 or 15km. I’m super happy that I can win a queen stage in Livigno, one of my favourite places in Italy.

“We had to be smart all day – we couldn’t let the break go too much and then we spoke on the last climb with the guys.

“Rafa did a super good job after the switchback with a tailwind, so everyone suffered on the wheel. I just tried to keep continuing, and I hoped for the gap, and then I opened the gap and continued to the top.

“I used to watch Quintana and [Chris] Froome attacking each other but always too close to the finish. I was always angry that he [Quintana] wouldn't attack from distance but today he did a good job.”

“We just let Pog go, let him do what he's gotta do,” said a pale Thomas afterwards. “I finished with Dani today. Let's see about next week.”

“In a way it's cat and mouse with me and Dani now,” he said of former teammate Martinez, who joined Bora in the close season.

Monday is a rest day and the Giro resumes on Tuesday with Stage 16 in the mountains, a 202km ride from Livigno to Santa Cristina Valgardena.

There are four mountain stages in the final week and two for the sprinters, including Stage 21 from Rome out to a Lido on the coast and back through all the sights of the Italian capital.

Updated: May 19, 2024, 5:44 PM