The Slovenia Times

Pogačar claims the lead of Giro d'Italia

Tadej Pogačar pictured at the opening of the Giro d'Italia in Turin. Photo: ANSA/STA

Slovenia's cycling star Tadej Pogačar won Stage 2 of the Giro d'Italia to claim the leader's pink jersey despite suffering a puncture before heading into the final climb to the Sanctuary of Oropa in Italy's Piedmont region.

In his debut appearance in the Italian Grand Tour, the Slovenian UAE Team Emirates rider attacked with 4.5 kilometres to go to the finish line of the 161 km stage.

Becoming the third Slovenian after Primož Roglič and Matej Mohorič to clinch stage victories in each of the three Grand Tours, Pogačar now has 15 stage wins at the prestigious three-week races and a total of 71 career victories under his belt.

The favourite to win the race, Pogačar had been hoping to put on the maglia rosa in the opening stage but was pipped to it in the final sprint by Jhonatan Narvaez (Ineos Grenadiers) of Ecuador and German Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-hansgrohe).

This time he had some difficulty before the final, category one climb, suffering a puncture on his front wheel, followed by a crash at low speed, which cost him a good 30 seconds. It took him and his two supporting team members a while to catch up with the front group of riders.

Attacking with 4.5 km to go to the first summit finish of the race, he managed to drop the closest chasers after just a few hundred metres. He finished the stage 26 seconds ahead of Columbian Daniel Martinez (Bora-hansgrohe) and Brit Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers), who lost the overall victory of the Giro last year to Slovenia's Roglič.

Pogačar, 25, now has a 45-second lead on Thomas and Martinez in the general classification.

"That was one of my dreams after wining a stage at the Tour. I was only missing a Giro win ... To have stage wins in all three it's something not many riders have, it's a big thing in cycling, so I'm super happy," said Pogačar, a two-time Tour de France winner, who has become the 108th rider to have stage wins in all three Grand Tours.

He stayed calm after the puncture incident. "I hit a hole in the city, I had super fast flat tyre, I broke the wheel as well. There was a little bit of confusion, I wanted to stop before the corner, not after the corner, but the driver said after the corner, and then I also crashed, but nothing serious," Pogačar said.

He felt good and the team was "super good" taking him back to the front and setting up the pace they wanted. "All was perfect," he said, adding that they did a good job even though they did not know the climb.

Today he just wanted a stage win, but put on the pink jersey, which was always his dream. "Now we can relax for a few days and stay safe for the sprints," Pogačar said.


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