It may be 15 degrees warmer, 8,000 kilometres away and, unlike in rural Jaén, there’s not an olive grove in sight, but even in the Tour of Oman, the impact of Tadej Pogačar‘s devastating first victory of 2023 in Spain could hardly go unnoticed.
Thanks to the three-hour time difference between Spain and Oman, even with the long transfer back to Muscat hotels from the stage 3 finish at Jabal at Hatt, riders still had plenty of time to watch Pogačar’s devastating hour-long attack at the Clásica Jaén Paraíso Interior live on TV over their evening meal – and assess the consequences.
Pogačar’s UAE Team Emirates teammates were understandably the most appreciative of his victory, first pointing to how Pogačar’s solo triumph also lifted the entire team game as UAE secured three of the top four places on a challenging, unpredictable course.
They also observed that for the Slovenian’s rivals, striking such a powerful early blow in a season where Pogačar is intent on recovering his Tour de France crown would be anything but cheering. As his teammate Ryan Gibbons put it, “this win is striking fear in everyone else.
“We obviously knew it was his first race of the season and fortunately being in Oman with a three-hour time difference, so we all watched it live over dinner time, it was around 8 when they finished,” Gibbons told Cyclingnews at the start of stage 4.
“We saw his attack and witnessed that last hour of racing. First, there was the gap growing to a minute, then coming down again, then opening up to two and then he had that unfortunate mechanical. But all in all, it was amazing to watch, so inspirational and definitely bodes well for a very good season.”
A pro since 2016 and part of the UAE squad since 2021, Gibbons pointed out that while it’s Pogačar has his name inscribed as the winner of the Spanish one-day race, the ripple effect of such a victory, particularly so early in the season, cannot be underestimated.
“As the leader of the team, a lot of faith and belief goes into one rider and when he pulls off victories as he does, especially the first one of the year and being already head and shoulders above the rest, it definitely inspires and motivates us,” he said.
He emphasised that the effect of Pogačar winning his first race of the season for the fourth time in his five-year career – and in his rookie season in 2019, the Slovenian won his second in the Tour of the Algarve – was also notable across the board.
“Just to be part of the setup,…
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