Tadej Pogacar prevails in Tre Valli Varesine

Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) claimed his 15th win of the season at Tre Valli Varesine, coming out on top of a closely-contested sprint finish ahead of Sergio Higuita (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).

The Slovenian had followed moves in the final, appearing content to wait for the sprint finish, and he duly showed his top form ahead of Il Lombardia at the weekend. Pogačar prevailed from a select group of contenders who had emerged at the head of the race on the hilly closing circuits in Varese.

In a long sprint to the line at the end of a 196km race which took in 25 major hills, Pogačar had just about enough to edge out Higuita and Valverde, coming down the right-hand side of the road to secure his fifth career win in a one-day race.

"I am very happy for the victory," Pogačar said later. "It was a very fast race, the team worked well to keep the group together in the final, especially Diego Ulissi was exceptional: the sprint was the best option for me in the final stages of the race, everything went perfectly.

"It's a good performance ahead of Il Lombardia. It will be more difficult than last year, but we will try as always to give our best."

Attacks had come and gone throughout the finale – including notable moves from Jumbo-Visma stagiaire Thomas Gloag and Astana Qazaqstan’s retiring Vincenzo Nibali – but still a group of around 20 men came to the line to contest the win.

Enric Mas (Movistar), who had beaten Pogačar at the weekend’s Giro dell’Emilia led out the sprint for Valverde following one last acceleration on the final hill, but it was Pogačar who came out on top in the head-to-head-to-head finish.

How it unfolded

The Italian autumn Classics continued on Tuesday with the Tre Valli Varesine, a 196km race through the hills around Varese in Lombardy.

The race would begin with a 40km run north from Busto Arsizio, followed by eight laps of a local circuit, taking in the Casbeno and Montello hills. The final would bring two laps of an extended circuit, adding the Morosolo and Casciago, and giving the riders 25 hills in total to tackle before the uphill run to the finish at Casbeno.

It would take over 20km for the break of the day to be formed, with moves by Daryl Impey (Israel-Premier Tech) and Quinten Hermans (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) initiating the breakaway.

The pair were joined out front by Mark Christian (Eolo-Kometa), Mathias Vacek (Trek-Segafredo), Mattéo Vercher (Team TotalEnergies), Mattia Bais (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli), Héctor Carretero (Equipo Kern Pharma), Johan Meens (Bingoal-Pauwels Sauces-WB), Joel Nicolau (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), and Samuele Zoccarato (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè).

Movistar, Astana Qazaqstan, and AG2R Citroën were among the teams controlling the peloton as the race hit the circuits and the climbing began, with the breakaway managing to make it three minutes up the road.

Heading into the final 100km, early attacker Impey lost his place in the move after a mechanical, and at 75km to go, the break was torn apart further as Hermans upped the pace.

At that point, the peloton had closed to within 1:30 of the leaders, while up front only Vacek, Bais, and Vercher could go with Hermans.

UAE Team Emirates joined in the chase, hoping to drag the move back to set up their leader Pogačar but Team DSM tried to play spoiler as the race hit the final 50km with Marco Brenner going on the offensive.

The 20-year-old German wasn’t on the move for long before being caught though, and the remains of the break were also reabsorbed, making it a full peloton once again as the riders raced into the final 45km.

Further attacks in the hills came courtesy of Alessandro De Marchi (Israel-Premier Tech) and Jay Vine (Alpecin-Deceuninck), but UAE Team Emirates, with Rafał Majka putting in the hard work, had little trouble in closing them down.

The status quo – UAE Team Emirates controlling at a high pace – continued into the final 30km, well onto the challenging final laps. An attempt from Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) was swiftly closed down, and a few kilometres later at 24km to go, a move by Dani Martínez (Ineos Grenadiers) was cut as soon as it began, too.

More attacks came over the top of that final climb of Montello, but the peloton stuck together down the other side, strung out in a long line under the high pace at the front.

Alpecin-Deceuninck hit the front on the approach the Morsolo-Casciago hill combination, the final hills before the finish at Morosolo, though it was UAE Team Emirates who came back on the way up with Diego Ulissi pushing the pace.

At 12km to go, a familiar pairing for those who watched the Giro dell’Emilia hit the front as Mas and Pogačar led the way in a much-reduced peloton. Over the top of Morsolo, however, it was Gloag who leapt off the front.

The 21-year-old, who joins the Dutch team on a full-time basis next season, put in a powerful acceleration, immediately putting distance between him and the peloton as he rode solo onto the hill of Casciago with UAE Team Emirates joined in the chase by AG2R Citroën and Groupama-FDJ.

Gloag’s fiery effort lasted for just almost 3km before he was caught as Mas bridged with 8km remaining, the Spaniard briefly joining the move before Ulissi led the peloton across the gap. At 6km to go, it was all together again at the front and the race’s outcome would rest on the final ascent towards the finish.

Nibali was the next to jump at the front, making a move inside the final 4km at the race he won back in 2015. Mas led the group across, though, bringing it all back together 2.5km out as Movistar retook control.

Mas attacked himself at 1,100 metres to go. His effort wasn’t enough to get away on the shallow slope, though his teammate – and quicker finisher – Valverde remained a few wheels back.

In the end, it all came down to the sprint finish, and a three-way fight for the victory on the closing straight with Pogačar proving to have the fastest finish in Varese.

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Daniel Ostanek
Senior news writer

Daniel Ostanek is Senior News Writer at Cyclingnews, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later being hired full-time. Prior to joining the team, he had written for numerous major publications in the cycling world, including CyclingWeekly, Rouleur, and CyclingTips.


Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France and the spring Classics, and has interviewed many of the sport's biggest stars, including Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Demi Vollering, and Anna van der Breggen.


As well as original reporting, news and feature writing, and production work, Daniel also oversees The Leadout newsletter and How to Watch guides throughout the season. His favourite races are Strade Bianche and the Volta a Portugal.

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