After a triumphant start of the new season, Tadej was once again headed to the most important modern cycling classic. Last year he put on a strong performance and finished in a very solid 7th place. It was no secret that he planned to improve this mark and reach for the very top of this prestigious classic. Gravel roads in the heart of Tuscany and its charming landscape took the reputation of Strade Bianche to another level among competitors and cycling fans around the world. The route has remained unchanged in recent years: 184 circular kilometers in the vicinity of Siena, with eleven gravel sections with a total length of 63 kilometers, gives the modern classic a special charm. The steep rise in reputation has led to Strade Bianche being known as the unofficial sixth monument in the world of cycling.
After two years, due to less stringent measures in the fight against the coronavirus, a large number of cycling enthusiasts gathered along the roads. Even Tadej managed to enjoy loud support from a good number of Slovenian fans and later repaid their effort and support with an unforgettable display of dominance.
Massive crash with 100km to go
The defining moment of the first half of the race was a huge crash with around 100km to go, caused by a strung gust of wind. The massive fall on the fifth gravel section took out a number of the leading riders. The first favorite Julian Alaphilippe fell badly, did a somersault, and had to change his bike. The Frenchman managed to continue, but he spend a lot of energy catching up with the peloton. Tadej Pogačar was also involved in the crash, but fortunately, he quickly got back on his bike and continued with the race.
Epic solo attack with 50km to go
On the 8th gravel sector at Monte Santa Maria, the pace of the leader's group rose sharply. Alaphilippe wanted to create a selection by picking up the pace, resulting in a counterattack by the two-time Tour de France champion. Pogačar went into attack and left the rest of the field in the dust. The breathtaking attack as much as 50km before the finish line completely surprised all the competitors, who only observed a move from Slovenian ace. The daring solo attack came as a surprise to many since no one had yet celebrated the victory on Strade Bianche with the solo effort with more than 20km to go.
The advantage of the world’s number one rider grew with each passing minute. Pogačar was in his own world and no one could follow him. At one point the gap reached 1m40s and it was becoming increasingly clear that it would be very difficult to catch Tadej Pogačar today. With less than 23 km to go, a group of five cyclists made the final push trying to close the gap on Pogačar, but it was too late. Although Tadej's advantage fell below one minute mark, it remained big enough that Pogačar peacefully crossed the finish line and deservedly enjoyed one of the most dominant victories in his career at Il Campo Square.
Another historic milestone
Tadej Pogačar rewrote history as he became the first Tour de France winner to win Strade Bianche. On top of that, he reached this milestone with a record-breaking solo effort that will forever be remembered by many cycling enthusiasts around the world. With the victory, he also improved the best Slovenian result at this prestigious modern classic.
Pogačar: “It was a beautiful, incredible victory. I started from afar, and I was only sure I made it when there were about 5 kilometers to go, but even on the last climb I checked if anyone was coming behind me.”
“I attacked in the Sante Marie sector, a part of the route that is usually crucial for the result of the race: no one followed me, so I decided to continue alone and I am happy to have managed to reach the finish line, also because they never gave up and, with the passing of the kilometers, my energies were decreasing”