Tadej Pogacar at the finish of stage 4 of the 2021 Tirreno Adriatico

Pogacar wins Tirreno stage 4, takes overall lead from Van Aert

Nobody could stay with Pogacar when he accelerated on the final climb.

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Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) won the fourth stage of Tirreno-Adriatico with a perfectly timed and untouchable strong attack on the day’s final climb, crossing the line just ahead of Simon Yates (BikeExchange), taking the overall lead in the process. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) bravely climbed with the best in the world and very nearly held onto his leader’s jersey.

Ineos’ Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal both made efforts, as did Nairo Quintana and Joao Almeida, but none could match Pogacar when he decided to go.

How it happened

The day’s big breakaway had dwindled to just two riders with 15 km to go – Israel Start-Up Nation’s Mads Wurtz Schmidt and Groupama-FDJ’s Benjamin Thomas – with a touch-and-go gap hovering around 3 minutes as the peloton accelerated towards the day’s final climb.

Trek’s Giulio Ciccone was the first big name to hit out, heading off the front with 11 km to go. The former climber’s jersey winner at the Giro d’Italia never got far, as Ineos’ Filippo Ganna sat on the front of the peloton, churning out enough watts to power a small city. Ineos had the numbers advantage on the front, with most of its team and all three of its top climbers – Thomas, Bernal, and Sivakov – still present.

Ganna swung off at 8 km to go, leaving the front to Michal Kwiatkowski, who then handed the duties to Jonathan Costroviejo.

Bernal got the GC party started, accelerating with 7.7 km to go, followed immediately by Tadej Pogacar.

Behind, overnight leader Wout van Aert sat at his own tempo, slowly clawing back the accelerations of the climbers.

Bernal and Pogacar returned to the group and Thomas was the next to hit out, as Van Aert again pulled the select group behind, isolated and attempting to defend his race lead. The group he dragged forward, down to about 12 riders, included Bernal, Pogacar, Julian Alaphilippe, DSM’s Romain Bardet, Deceuninck-Quickstep’s Almeida, and Arkea-Samsic’s Quintana.

Pogacar chose a tight switchback to make his own move, with Quintana attemping to follow behind. Pogacar flew across the gap to Thomas in just a few seconds, riding straight past him. The acceleration ended Wurtz Schmidt’s day off the front.

Still, Van Aert sat behind, sitting at his own tempo and keeping Pogacar and Thomas in sight.

Thomas couldn’t hold Pogacar’s pace, falling off the wheel around a steep corner. The defending Tour de France champion was solo with 4.5 km to go.

With Pogacar’s lead hovering around 14 seconds, Bernal made an attempt to cross, pulling with him Mikel Landa and Simon Yates. The acceleration sent Alaphilippe off the back. Still, Van Aert chugged along.

EF’s young Brit Simon Carr sat in the ever-dwindling group alongside his teammate Sergio Higuita. Carr finished 11th at Strade Bianche – a name to keep an eye on.

Yates was the next to go, gaining about 200 meters. Pogacar’s lead stretched to 30 seconds.

Still, Van Aert chased, dropping climbers and, for the first time, losing his overall lead on the road.

With 900 meters to go, Yates slowly closed on Pogacar, the gap just 30 meters.

Chasing bonus seconds available at the line, Almeida pushed on from the group behind, but there was no catching Yates or Pogacar.

Pogacar, grimacing, put his hands in the air across the line, just 15 meters ahead of a chasing Yates. Landa and Higuita opened up behind, the final 4 bonus seconds going to Higuita.

Wout van Aert, the bunch sprinter/time trialist/classics rider/climber/GC man, finished with the other favorites, ahead of both Thomas and Bernal. He lost 45 seconds to Pogacar and now sits in 2nd overall, 35 seconds back. Three stages remain.

Stage results

1 – Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 3:51:24
2 – Simon Yates (GBr) Team BikeExchange 0:0:06
3 – Sergio Higuita Garcia (Col) EF Education-Nippo 0:0:29
4 – Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Bahrain Victorious
5 – Nairo Quintana (Col) Team Arkea-Samsic 0:0:31

General Classification after stage 4

1 – Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 17:53:21
2 – Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma 0:0:35
3 – Sergio Higuita Garcia (Col) EF Education-Nippo
4 – Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Bahrain Victorious 0:0:38
5 – Nairo Quintana (Col) Team Arkea-Samsic 0:0:41
6 – João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:0:45
7 – Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana-Premier Tech 0:0:55
8 – Simon Carr (GBr) EF Education-Nippo 0:01:03
9 – Matteo Fabbro (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:01:12
10 – Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:01:25

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