Tadej Pogačar laid down a Tour de France marker with a dominant victory on stage 3 of the Tour of Slovenia, which put him into the overall lead of the race.
The Tour de France champion shone again as UAE Team Emirates again prized open the stage and played a numbers game thanks to Rafal Majka and Pogačar.
Pogačar triumphed on the uphill finish at Celje after making a powerful late attack. Overall leader Majka came home 11 seconds later for a team one-two, passing his leader's green jersey to Pogačar.
Alpecin-Fenix new signing Nicola Conci (Alpecin-Fenix), dispatched by the duo on the final climb to the line, took the final podium spot at 14 seconds.
Pogačar will now ride through his hometown of Komenda as race leader during stage 4.
The race was largely together and still open-ended as it hit the category-2 Svetina climb with 25km to go. However, Pogacar and Majka were determined not to let it come down to the final incline.
Pogacar forced the issue and soon only his teammate could follow him. They crested the climb alone together, with a lead of nearly 30 seconds. As second-placed Domen Novak fell away, his Bahrain Victorious teammate Matej Mohoric tried to give chase. Despite the Slovenian's descending skills, he was never able to make the junction on the downhill and had to slot back into the chase group.
Towards the bottom of the descent, Conci made an attack and did succeed in getting across to the leading duo. However, as the road tilted up towards the finish in the final few kilometres, he was put to the sword again.
Conci was able to follow Pogacar's initial surge with 2km to go but then had to relent when the Tour champion mustered repeated accelerations. Conci then dropped back to Majka, who attacked him in turn to make it a team one-two.
Luka Mezgec (Bike-Exchange-Jayco) led a fragmented bunch home in fourth place at 36 seconds, alongside Mohoric, as Novak finished 13th at 47 seconds.
In the overall standings, Pogacar now leads the way, with a lead of seven seconds of Majka, and Novak third at 55 seconds.
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Deputy Editor - Europe. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2021 he has been Deputy Editor - Europe, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.
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