UAE Team Emirates star Tadej Pogacar powers ahead in the Tirreno-Adriatico

Powerful finish sees Slovenian extend his advantage with two stages to go

epa09074072 Slovenian rider Tadej Pogacar (L) of the UAE Team Emirates at the start of the 5th stage of the 2021 Tirreno Adriatico cycling race,  over 205km between Castellalto and Castelfidardo, Italy, 14 March 2021.  EPA/LUCA BETTINI
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UAE Team Emirates star Tadej Pogacar extended his overall lead after finishing second in stage 5 of the Tirreno-Adriatico on Sunday.

The Slovenian crossed the line 10 seconds behind Alpecin-Fenix’s Mathieu Van der Poel on a demanding 205km route with five climbs of the Castelfidardo ‘wall’ made even tougher by bad weather.

Van der Poel played the leading role for much of the stage, with an attack 66km from the finish that saw him reach the final 20km with an advantage of more than three minutes over the chasing group.

Pogacar unleashed his power on the penultimate lap, opening up a 39-second advantage on Jumbo-Visma’s Wout Van Aert and Sergio Higuita of EF-Nippo. The Tour de France winner's form saw him extend his lead to 1min 15sec over Van Aert.

“I attacked with the intention of widening my lead in the overall standings as much as possible, and I got an extra boost when I saw that my action had put Wout Van Aert in trouble,” Pogacar said.

“I had no thought to take Van der Poel back, but I almost managed to catch him: many compliments to Mathieu, once again he did a great ride, it was not easy to be in the lead for so many kilometres alone in this stage and in this weather.

“The advantage over Van Aert is certainly more comfortable than what I had this morning, I would be happy to start in the time trial with this situation but it’s still quite tight.”

The penultimate sixth stage on Monday starts from Castelraimondo and ends in Lido di Fermo after 169 km.