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Pogacar stays on course at Tirreno-Adriatico despite wrong turn

FERMO ITALY MARCH 11 Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia and UAE Team Emirates Blue Leader Jersey crosses the finish line during the 57th TirrenoAdriatico 2022 Stage 5 a 155km stage from Sefro to Fermo 317m TirrenoAdriatico WorldTour on March 11 2022 in Fermo Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
Tadej Pogacar overcame a big mistake to retain the overall lead at Tirreno-Adriatico (Image credit: Getty Images)

Tadej Pogačar was unable to win a second consecutive stage at Tirreno-Adriatico after he followed Remco Evenepoel and Jonas Vingegaard the wrong way on a descent with six kilometres to go on stage 5

He kept his nerve and recovered, however, closing the gap to the group of overall contenders to retain the overall lead before Saturday’s decisive stage over Monte Carpegna. 

The final 30km of the stage to Fermo was packed with steep ‘muri’ climbs in the spectacular hills of the Marche. The trio made a mistake on a descent after Evenepoel launched an attack to spark what could have been a decisive move.

They were closing in on the breakaway of the day but they suddenly had to slam on the brakes, turn around, and chase to catch a select group. 

Up front, Warren Barguil (Arkea-Samsic) was grateful for the error and he won alone after attacking from the break. His lead was around 50 seconds when the trio went off route but was only 28 seconds when he crossed the line ahead of some chasers. 

Pogačar finished sixth, with Vingegaard and Evenepoel right behind him. Pogačar still leads the Belgian by nine seconds, with Vingegaard fourth overall at 45 seconds after a disappointing opening time trial.

"I think the result could have changed because Remco and Jonas, they both wanted to go for it," Pogačar suggested.

"They were both really strong, and I was there as well trying to go with them. We were three strong guys in the front and maybe we could fight for the stage win also."

While Evenenpeol had to chase the longest and did not stop to explain what happened, Pogačar shrugged it off, while admitting the extra chasing did hurt. 

"It was a mistake by us in the right corner," he admitted, knowing that responsibility for taking the right road always falls to the riders.

"It was not clear at all. There was a pink arrow to the right and on the main road, you could see it going right. But at our speed it was impossible to see it. I knew a right corner was coming but I didn't know it was this one. It was a bad situation at that moment, but we tried to recover a bit after that. It was pretty much game over for the stage win. It was painful to chase back on, my legs exploded there.

"I’m just really happy to still be in the leader's jersey. We got back on and there were some attacks on the cobbles going through the city streets, so I just tried to keep my position up front in the final 500 metres. I was surprised there was a final steep climb with 200 metres to go but I gave my best for the last minute. It was a good effort."

Pantani's climb

Pogačar’s UAE Team Emirates teammates controlled the break of the day that included Benjamin Thomas (Cofidis), who was just 1:06 down in the general classification. It meant for a fast and hard day out but they still had Davide Formolo and Marc Soler up front until Evenepoel made his attack.   

Pogačar thus remains in control of Tirreno-Adriatico before Saturday’s decisive mountain stage over Monte Carpegna. The climb, famed as the late Marco Pantani’s favourite testing site before major races, is only six kilometres long but it is especially steep.

The opening kilometre climbs at 7.2 per cent and then stiffens to 10.4 per cent for the remaining 5km. It also twists and turns frequently before reaching the 1415-metre high summit.

There is no mountain-top finish but the Carpegna is climbed twice, and the descent to the finish in the village below is also testing and could create significant time differences. 

Pogačar was born just a few months after Pantani won the Giro-Tour double in 1998 but he is aware of the significance of the climb and of the Italian climber’s career and tragic demise.   

"Unfortunately I didn't see Pantani race live, I was too young. But I know of him and I’ve seen the videos. Thank God for Youtube," Pogačar said.

"Tomorrow is his climb and it's a pretty tough one. I’m looking forward to racing on this climb. It's going to be a fantastic day of racing."

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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.