49 kilometers solo: Tadej Pogačar wins Strade Bianche

Pogačar became the first Tour de France champion to win Strade Bianche

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Tadej Pogačar took matters into his own hands on the white roads of Tuscany on Saturday, accelerating away from a large group of favorites with nearly 50 kilometers to go, extending his lead to more than a minute and a half, and crossing the line solo in Siena. It was a dominant display, the first time a Tour de France champion has won Strade Bianche, and a reminder to place the Slovenian as a man to watch in almost any race he starts.

“I went early, and I didn’t know until 5 km that I was going to make it,” Pogačar said after the finish. “Even the last climb I was still looking behind, to see if anyone was coming. So I’m sure happy to pull it off.”

“I tried to do my best effort ton the Santa Marie, on the climb. I had to be fully committed once I started.”

Pogačar made a couple of small moves near the 50 km mark and finally broke the elastic with an attack on a rolling downhill section, sliding past Simon Clarke and into a small gap. The Santa Marie climb made the real difference, stretching that gap from a bike length to hundreds of meters. Behind, Julian Alaphilippe and other favorites tried to hang on, but the gap slowly extended. Within five kilometers Pogačar had 25 seconds. Another three kilometers and it was up to 44 seconds. Then a minute. Then 90 seconds.

Behind, Alaphilippe stepped into domestique mode. He suffered a nasty crash earlier in the day, flying through the air and landing on his back. His work was for Kasper Asgreen. Trek-Segafredo put riders on the front too, using up Toms Skujins to set up Quinn Simmons.

Asgreen threw caution to the wind as the finale approached. His attack pulled four other riders clear – Simmons, Jhonatan Narvaez (Ineos Grenadiers), Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal), and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). Another Asgreen move left all four behind, as he rode into the chasm between Pogačar and everyone else.

The gap to Pogačar came down slightly, hovering around a minute with 20 kilometers remaining. It stayed there.

Valverde, in his final Strade Bianche, left his group and made his way across to Asgreen. The two pulled the gap to Pogačar down to 45 seconds, briefly, but it would go no lower.

In the end, Valverde separated himself from Asgreen and crossed the line in second place.

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Strade Bianche (1.UWT) Siena → Siena

POGAČAR Tadej UAE Team Emirates
VALVERDE Alejandro Movistar Team
ASGREEN Kasper Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team
VALTER Attila Groupama - FDJ
BILBAO Pello Bahrain - Victorious
NARVÁEZ Jhonatan INEOS Grenadiers
SIMMONS Quinn Trek - Segafredo
WELLENS Tim Lotto Soudal
PETILLI Simone Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux
HIGUITA Sergio BORA - hansgrohe

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