Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) is the winner of the 3rd stage of Tour of Slovenia and new race leader. Slovenian made a final attack on the short climb to Old castle Celje, and crossed the finish line with 11 seconds ahead of teammate Rafal Majka.
2021 is happening all over again, just like last year Tadej Pogačar attacked on the climb to Svetina (712 m) and confirmed his strength on the 2 kilometers long final climb to Old castle Celje. His teammate and green jersey winner Rafal Majka was with him on Svetina, Nicola Conci (Alpecin-Fenix) joined them with strong attack on the desecent from Svetina, but they both were dropped by Tadej on the final climb. Stage that started in Žalec was under the control of UAE Team Emirates for the whole time, despite Mikkel Bjerg & Vegard Stake Laengen leaving the race due to Covid-19 infection and crash of Rui Filipe Alves Oliveira; Rui got a new bike and continued the race.
Tadej Pogačar after victory in Celje: “We rode really perfectly. Rafa and I decided to go together on the climb to Svetina and it was enough to make a gap on the top. Descent was really slippery and we didn’t want to take any risks. Before the stage I said that it’s better to go full gas on the climb than go full gas on the descent, so it evens out. I know the last climb from before and it was hard to keep it under control. Conci from Alpecin-Fenix caught us at the bottom and we knew that we need to outsmart him on the final climb. It was pretty hard finish, I’m really happy to deliver as we did.”
Tadej confirmed he gave everything, for sure he’ll do the same tomorrow on the hardest stage of the race. He’s now the new leader of the race and will wear green.
Majka and Conci took second and third. Fourth place went to Slovenian Luka Mezgec (BikeExchange-Jayco) who was strongest in the group of five chasers. Luka Mezgec: “There was no pressure on me for the today’s stage, I just wanted to do a good training ahead of the Tour de France. I knew how hard the climb to Svetina is and I was smart about it, I was just a little bit short to stay with my group. But I bridged the gap on the downhill, my coach Bojan Ropret thought me how to descent fast, he was a great descender as well. If you can do it on the ascent, it’s nice if you can do it on the way down. I had enough power in my legs for a final sprint and took this good result.”
Matej Mohorič (Bahrain-Victorious) was sixth to round up great day for Slovenian cyclists.
4th stage from Laško to Velika planina is reserved for strong climbers. It’s 152 kilometers long with four categorized climbs, including 1st category climb to Velika planina.