It was a first victory at his home tour for Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), with the 2020 Tour de France winner taking stage 2 and a solid lead on the overall at the Tour of Slovenia by surging away solo 22 kilometres from the line.
The UAE Team Emirates rider had no intention of waiting to make his mark during his fourth Tour of Slovenia, which he is using as a preparation race for the Tour de France, as the 147 kilometre stage 2 that marked the beginning of the climbs was one the Slovenian knew suited him well.
“I really like this stage … I prefer it over the one on Saturday and this is why I decided to attack,” said Pogačar, after strking emphatically to pull away from all of his rivals on the second category climb of the Svetina. “But I didn’t expect to finish with such a gap.”
The scene was set when the break was caught before the peloton reached the final categorised climb and while it was Bahrain Victorious setting a solid pace on the run in, it was Pogačar that took advantage. Sitting on the wheel of his teammate, at over 23 kilometres to go, the initial gap was established, with just Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Victorious) holding. Though, as others started to bridge to the group of three, at 22 kilometres to go Pogačar decided to take off alone. Matteo Sobrero of Astana-Premier Tech tried to follow but couldn’t and by the time the descending started the 22-year-old had stretched out the gap to over 45 seconds.
Then the final 2 kilometre ramp up to the finish gave him an extra advantage and second-placed Matej Mohorič didn't come over the line in Celje until 1:22 later. That left Pogačar with not only a first stage victory in his home tour – where he has twice finished fourth on the overall – but also a 1:25 lead on the GC after just the second stage of the 5 day tour.
“This stage was on the race three years ago, but it was hotter than today and my legs were not as strong," said Pogačar. "I felt super good today and went full gas. But I always knew that I have to be careful today, descents on this stage are very tricky.”
Ultimately the challenging descent of Svetina and slippery rain soaked roads after didn’t provide a hurdle for either Pogačar or his teammates, with Diego Ulissi finishing in third place behind Mohorič. Two more teammates, Rafal Majka and Jan Polanc also finished in the top ten. It was a promising showing ahead of the Tour de France, not just for the defending champion but also some of the riders he may have around to support him.
“The team did a super good job, Matteo [Trentin] was pulling all day like a moto, then Rui [Costa] leading to the climb was super strong, then on the climb everyone was just super good,” said Pogačar. “I’m really proud of everyone. It’s a super good sign before the Tour.”
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Thank you for signing up to Cycling News. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.