The Slovenia Times

Pogačar wins Strade Bianche in season debut

Rider Tadej Pogačar. Photo: Boštjan Podlogar/STA
Slovenian cycling star Tadej Pogačar started off his new season with a resounding win in the Strade Bianche, a 215km race in central Italy's Tuscany region, on 2 March.

The 25-year-old UAE Team Emirates rider left his opponents in the dust after attacking solo 81 kilometres before the finish line.

This is his 64th career win and his second in the Strade Bianche after he claimed the title in 2022. Last year the race was not part of his season schedule.

This year, he decided to break away in the same segment of the race as in 2022, during the Monte Sante Marie dirt road part, one of the most challenging segments in the race, but this time around the attack happened even sooner than two years ago, since the race was some 30 kilometres longer than usual.

This pose no major problem for Pogačar, with the gap between him and other riders totalling nearly four minutes at its maximum. Toms Skujinš (Lidl-Trek), a Latvian rider who finished second, was 2 minutes and 43 second behind him in the end. Belgium's Maxim Van Gils (Lotto Dstny) was third, crossing the finishing line right behind Skujinš.

What is further proof of Pogačar's dominance in his season debut is that he had told reporters before the start of the race that he planned to launch an attack on the Monte Sante Marie section of gravel and then went on to do just that.

"The race was really quite fast from the start. It was quite selective super early. I don't think anyone expected that," he said after the race, noting challenging weather conditions. But all heavy rain did was to motivate him even more, the Slovenian added.

"The first race in the season is really tough mentally," but all the preparation has paid off.

Starting and finishing in Siena, the one-day race is famous for its historic white gravel roads, after which it is named. A third of the race is also defined by dirt roads.

Another three Slovenians competed in the race this year: Matej Mohorič (Bahrain-Victorious) finished fifth, and Matevž Govekar (Bahrain-Victorious) and Domen Novak (UAE Team Emirates) performed the role of domestiques.

This is the second weekend in a row that Slovenian cycling has cause for celebration, as Jan Tratnik (Visma-Lease a Bike) won the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad race in Belgium a week ago.


More from Sport