UAE Team Emirates rider Tadej Pogacar extends Giro d'Italia lead to nearly eight minutes

Slovenian finishes second behind Georg Steinhauser on Stage 17 and says he is 'super happy' with day's efforts

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Relentless Tadej Pogacar extended his overall lead in the Giro d'Italia to nearly eight minutes as Georg Steinhauser claimed his first professional win in Wednesday's brutal Stage 17.

UAE Team Emirates rider Pogacar had secured his fifth stage win of his debut Giro on Tuesday and, while he did not add to that tally 24 hours later, the Slovenian did increase his grip on the pink jersey yet again. After finishing second behind Steinhauser, it means he now leads Dani Martinez (Bora-Hansgrohe) by seven minutes and 42 seconds and Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) by 8 min 04 sec.

Pogacar had threatened to make it win No 6 with a late attack but in the end he finished one minute, 24 seconds behind Steinhauser.

“Well I really held my horses until the final so it was a really beautiful stage,” said the two-time Tour de France winner. “A little bit cold on the last descent but we stretched the legs good on the final climb.” he said.

“Ineos did a good pace, Martinez tried to attack, I followed and then I decided to dig a little bit and I rode away and kept my tempo to the finish. I'm super happy that Steinhauser took the win today so for me its also like a victory. I'm super happy.

“I'm satisfied how it is, even if I don't win anything now, everything is just bonus from now on. The main goal is always to keep the jersey into Rome and not do anything stupid. But there is one really nice stage, Monte Grappe close to Slovenia, we can see what happens there.”

There was none of the drama and chaos of the previous day but the weather was still wet and freezing in parts on a tough day in the Dolomites.

Apart from one short stretch, the riders were constantly climbing or descending on the 159-kilometre route from Selva di Val Gardena, with four classified climbs before the top-category ascent to the finish on the Passo Brocon.

Steinhauser (EF Education – EasyPost) went alone on the first climb of the Passo Brocon with just over 30km remaining and continued to open up a sizeable gap over Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier.

With the peloton showing no real urgency in giving chase, the 22-year-old Grand Tour debutant Steinhauser powered up the second climb of Passo Brocon in steady rain to take the victory.

He was full of smiles over the final 400 metres as he knew he was riding to the biggest success of his career. The young German then shook his head in disbelief before sitting up and raising his arms above his head as he crossed the summit finish at Passo Brocon.

Steinhauser has a strong cycling pedigree. His father Tobias was also a professional cyclist, while his uncle Jan Ullrich won the Tour de France as well as the Spanish Vuelta.

“It's something unbelievable. Already on Stage 8, I noticed I had good legs and thought I maybe had the legs to win a stage. The Queen stage was unbelievable, I could've already been happy just with that for this Giro,” he said, having finished third on that day behind Pogacar and Nairo Quintana.

“Today when I rode to the sign-on, I thought to myself 'I have good legs, maybe I will win' and then I went from the beginning in the break. It was a little bit strange because we got caught by the peloton again but in one moment I decided I had to try again and I did and it worked out.”

Thursday’s Stage 18 offers some respite from the mountains as it is a mainly flat, 178-kilometre route from Fiera di Primiero to Padua that should end in a sprint finish. The Giro ends in Rome on Sunday.

Updated: May 22, 2024, 5:04 PM