Tadej Pogacar powers to fifth stage win for UAE Team Emirates at Giro d'Italia

Slovenian victorious again in Tuesday's Stage 16 that was shortened after rider protests at demands they race through snow

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The Tadej Pogacar machine shows no signs of slowing down at the Giro d'Italia with the UAE Team Emirates rider sealing a fifth stage win on Tuesday.

Pogacar powered to victory in a shortened Stage 16, which started three hours late after rider protests against organisers who were pushing for a full day's racing despite dreadful weather.

The two-time Tour de France winner could have held his position in the peloton and still led the three-week race handsomely but surged past Giulio Pellizzari in the final kilometre before holding five fingers aloft as he crossed the line.

Giro debutant Pogacar now leads the standings by more than seven minutes and, barring misfortune in the next few days, looks assured of reaching Rome with the maglia rosa on his back.

“The day started really on and off and we didn't know what to do but when we started it was fine. The breakaway went and it was good for us and we sat back and tried to relax,” Pogacar said after the race.

“But Movistar kept on pushing and kept the breakaway close and then they went really fast on the second last climb and then the final 2km we tried to control and then Rafa had enough, he said we push on we try to make some gaps.

“Since yesterday, it was just thinking to be safe. In the end, it was good for us and also good for the people, good for everybody so I think we should be happy given the circumstances.”

Pogacar's teammate Rafal Majka revealed the ease with which the latest stage win was sealed. “Actually today we didn't want to go for the stage,” the Pole told Eurosport.

“But when other teams pull, then we say 'Why not, now we can try', then the last climb we went a little bit faster I saw only Tadej behind me and it's done.

“Tadej wanted that I go for the stage then but actually I pulled already before then I was a little bit tired so I said 'Go on man, win another stage' so chapeau. But really today we didn't want to go for the stage but when it is other teams pulling and we are still there with guys, then why not?”

Riders were supposed to begin the 202-kilometre mountain stage between Livigno and Santa Cristina Val Gardena at 11:20am local time but plans were changed after hours of discussion, confusion and anger within the peloton and the race began at 2:30pm.

“I’d like to see him [race director Mauro Vegni] in our position, go outside on the bike and do the start of the stage and see what his answer is after those couple of hours,” Ben O’Connor, who was fifth overall, told Eurosport amid the uncertainty.

But once the action was under way, Pogacar’s win seemed inevitable when the two-time Tour de France winner made his attack on the steep climb to the finish with 1.3 kilometres remaining and he made it look easy.

He was 23 seconds behind Pellizzari but he passed him with 0.7 kilometres remaining and soloed to the finish.

The 20-year-old Pellizzari asked Pogacar for his sunglasses at the finish line and the Slovenian gave him his pink jersey too amid similes and hugs between the pair.

“I was thinking that Pellizzari would win today's stage and he was close and I'm super happy that he arrives second also,” Pogacar added.

“I really admire him in this Giro already and he sent me a photo that we took in 2019. I was actually also a small kid and he was also a small kid and it was an amazing memory from Strade Bianche and now he's here and he's going really strong and maybe he can win a stage this week.”

Pogacar already had the biggest Giro advantage in seven decades and he extended that to seven minutes, 18 seconds over Martinez, who moved into second. Geraint Thomas slipped to third, 7:40 behind.

Wednesday’s Stage 17 is another brutal one. Apart from one short stretch, the riders will constantly be climbing or descending on the 159km route from Selva di Val Gardena, with four classified climbs before the top category ascent to the finish on the Passo Brocon.

Updated: May 21, 2024, 4:44 PM