UAE Team Emirates' Tadej Pogacar took the 2019 Tour of California by the scruff of the neck on Friday, winning stage 6 with its summit finish on Mount Baldy, and in doing so taking the race lead from overnight leader Tejay van Garderen (EF Education First), who cracked on the final slopes.
Winning the race overall will be no formality, despite just one stage remaining – a 126km route from Santa Clarita to Pasadena on Saturday – but 20-year-old Pogacar rode himself into pole position on the final climb of Friday's stage, first catching, and then beating, the beleagured van Garderen's young teammate Sergio Higuita, 21, who's riding in his first WorldTour-level race.
Pogacar may be slightly more experienced, having won the 2.HC-ranked Volta ao Algarve in February, but it was nevertheless a mature and assured performance by such a young rider. Both the winner and the runner-up on stage 6 surely have a very bright future in the sport.
Third on the stage was New Zealand's George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma), while van Garderen fell away entirely, and now sits ninth overall on the GC, 1:22 down on Pogacar.
The Slovenian now leads Higuita by 16 seconds overall, with Deceuninck-QuickStep's Kasper Asgreen a further four seconds back in third, with Bennett in fourth, 29 seconds down on Pogacar.
Watch youngsters Pogacar and Higuita go head-to-head in the video highlights above.
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