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UAE’s Tadej Pogacar charges to stunning win in Strade Bianche cycling competition

In Sport, Sports
March 02, 2024

Tadej Pogacar stormed to a stunning win in Saturday’s Strade Bianche after blowing away the competition with a solo attack a full 81 kilometres from the finish line.

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UAE rider Pogacar claimed a statement victory in his first race of the 2024 season in which he will attempt a Giro d’Italia-Tour de France double for the first time.

Pogacar finished just under three minutes ahead of the chasing pack, smashing the previous record winning margin of 42 seconds set by Fabian Cancellara in 2012 to win the race for the second time.

The 25-year-old started his campaign as he ended the previous season, victorious in Italy where he claimed a hat-trick of consecutive victories in the Il Lombardia monument in October.

Pogacar had said before the start that he would attack on the Monte Santa Maria and he did just that, bursting from the pack and racing on his own for over two hours before winning the 215km race set in picturesque Tuscan countryside.

He basked in the applause of fans as he crossed the line in Siena’s Piazza del Campo, getting off his bike and raising it into the air in celebration at a huge win against a strong field which also included Ineos’ defending champion Tom Pidcock, who finished fourth.

Pogacar’s charge was even more impressive than the way he won in Siena for the first time two years ago, when he attacked from 50km and got no reply from his rivals, as this year’s edition was the longest in the race’s 17-year history.

The famous white roads surrounding Siena turned brown and soggy after a brief flurry of rain swept in to cause the riders trouble on the gravel.

But by the time Pogacar had pulled away the sun was back out and his burst caused confusion in the peloton, as no-one attempted to follow him up the road and uncoordinated stop-start attempts to close the gap only allowed the Slovene to increase his lead.

With 40km remaining Pogacar was over three-and-a-half minutes ahead and that gap was only slightly cut at the end of another crushing display to add to his already groaning collection.

Julian Alaphilippe crashed out of the race in a frustrating start to the season for the two-time world champion, who was also forced to abandon the Circuit Het Nieuwsblad last weekend following a heavy fall in the final stages.

French Soudal-Quick Step rider Alaphilippe and his teammate Paul Magnier both quit the race, with no details revealed as to their respective conditions.

Patrick Lefevere, general manager of his team, recently criticised Alaphilippe’s for what he believes is a partying lifestyle and being “under the influence” of his partner Marion Rousse, herself a former racing cyclist.

(AFP)

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