Tadej Pogačar proved once again that he is currently the undisputed world's number one in cycling. The UAE Team Emirates captain made a decisive step towards defending the overall victory at Tirreno-Adriatico with another dominant performance on Saturday's Queen stage. With a new victory, Pogačar remains unbeaten in the 2022 season.
Tadej Pogačar justified the role of the first favorite in the Race of the two seas with exceptional results from Stage 1 onwards. With the victory in Stage 4, he took the lead in GC (general classification) and never let it go.
A lot of credit for the final success goes to the entire UAE Team Emirates since they have done a lot of hard work, especially after Tadej took over the lead in the general classification. Pascal Ackermann (Ger), Mikkel Bjerg (Den), and Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) were often the locomotives to the entire peloton on flat sections while Davide Formolo (Ita), Rafal Majka (Po), and Marc Soler (Spa) provided great support to Tadej in the uphill sections.
Star trio misses the turn!
Stage 5, full of punchy climbs offered an interesting day of cycling. A strong breakaway forced Tadej and other main favorites to react. If not, Tadej was facing the threat of losing the leader's blue jersey. Pogačar was one of the three main favorites for the overall victory, which went to hunt down the group of breakaway riders about 8 kilometers before the finish line. The Pogačar-Evenepoel-Vingegaard trio gained some advantage over the peloton and it seemed more and more likely that they would also be able to catch the breakaway group in the front. Then came the shock!
The star trio missed the turn before the final ascent, as the tape marking the road closure was placed too high and the cyclists did not notice it in time. The mistake of the three favorites ended the hopes of winning the stage, which was taken by the cyclist from the breakaway group. Tadej crossed the finish line together with all the main favorites and thus defended the leader's blue jersey.
Stage 6, the Queen Stage of the race featured an extremely attractive conclusion with a double ascent to Carpegno, the favorite training ground of Italian cycling icon, Marco Pantani. The cycling world was therefore expecting a fierce battle in the fight for the Tirreno-Adriatico crown.
Display of supremacy on Carpegna
The race flared up around 28 kilometers to go when a group of favorites broke away from the peloton. Surprisingly, Tadej's main challenger Remco Evenepoel was not part of this group. Belgian, who was only 9 seconds behind Pogačar in GC before the start of the Queen stage, was left behind. The group grew thinner and thinner, until only Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious), Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) and Richie Porte (Ineos Grenadiers) remained alongside Pogačar. However, when Tadej decided to launch a signature long-range solo attack with 16km to go, they were all unable to respond. The Slovenian ace dropped all the pursuers 4 kilometers below the top of the Carpegna and rushed towards a new resounding victory. Tadej was going in his own rhythm and his advantage over the rest of the field was growing with every pedal stroke. At the top of the climb, his lead almost hit a minute and a half mark!
The huge advantage allowed Tadej a relatively peaceful descent towards the finish line. The UAE team Emirates captain crossed the finish with arms raised high and a wide smile, along with the big advantage of more than a minute over the nearest pursuer. The fight for the GC was practically decided, as the Slovenian cycling phenomenon held a lead of nearly 2 minutes (+01: 52) over his closest challenger before the last stage.
Pogačar: “First of all I would like to thank the team and my teammates, they were once again fantastic all day and allowed me to take the last climb in the best position. I had good legs, Marc Soler was making a good pace, there were some attacks and, at that point, I decided to try to go all the way to the top at my own pace, giving it my all. It was very cold and, in this way, I also kept warm.
I am very happy to have won and to have repaid the work of the whole team during these last days: today my teammates struggled at the head of the group for 200 km, with the headwind, so it’s nice to have conquered the queen stage for them.
As expected, the last, flat Stage 7 did not feature any drama for the GC leaders. Sprinters fought for the stage victory, while Tadej officially became the ruler of two seas once again and received Neptune's golden trident for the second year in a row. In addition to the overall victory in the race, the Slovenian ace also won a white jersey for the best young rider and a purple jersey for winning Points classification. This is his 7th victory of the season in just 15 days of racing. The victory at Tirreno-Adriatico means that Tadej Pogačar remains unbeaten in the 2022 season.