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Philippa York Analysis: how Tadej Pogačar fulfilled Giro d’Italia expectations

Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) on the charge again on stage 15, the queen stage of the 2024 Giro d

Given the preceding two weeks it was no surprise that the 107th Giro d’Italia came to its expected conclusion. Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) came to the start as the stand out favourite, took the race lead on the second day and never looked to be under any great pressure to relinquish the Maglia Rosa. The speculation after the first rest day that UAE Team Emirates might be open to someone else heading the GC standings for a while proved to be just that. A consequence of the race structure meant there were always other teams interested in controlling affairs when Pogačar’s squad didn’t need to do that, so despite the rumours the Slovenian remained in pink. I know I’ve said it before but given how he attacked on the opening stage I think he would have quite liked to have led from start to finish. A la Merckx. The comparisons certainly stack up, taking six stages like Eddy Merckx did in ’63 though only two classifications instead of three for the Belgian superstar. However an almost ten minute lead outdoes even the Cannibal. 

The other contenders

I don’t think even Pogačar thought it would be that simple and given he rarely looked at his maximum the energy costs to him were certainly lessened. There’s a massive difference between a self-imposed maximal effort and one that is imposed by a rival. With no one able to test the Maglia Rosa in the way that a Jonas Vingegaard (Visma-Lease A Bike) or Primož Roglič (Bora-Hansgrohe) would then the times that had to ride flat out were pretty limited.

Both time trials and the mountain top finishes where he took two minutes from the other team leaders he probably rode at his maximum but for the other stage wins he seemed really comfortable. It’s all relative, of course, because winning a race hurts, specially atop a climb. Physically he was challenged by the route and the poor weather though I suspect not to the extent his team envisaged, which with the Tour de France next will have been a plus. 

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