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Pitch Perfect Pogačar – Podium Cafe

107th Giro d’Italia 2024 - Stage 8

There was a headline in Cycling News yesterday, which has since maybe disappeared, about how current Giro d’Italia leader and overwhelming GC favorite Tadej Pogačar was defending his stage-winning ways. CN does fine work these days, but like a lot of publications sometimes the headline writer doesn’t see fit to really capture the text of the article, and this was one of those times. The event was a post-race presser after Pogačar won the Prati di Tivo climb, his third stage victory of the 2024 Giro’s opening week, and one of the offhand comments he made was about how maybe his rivals were sick of him winning stages. None of his rivals actually said that. Nairo Quintana was reported today saying the opposite, a point so obvious — that no written or unwritten rule of cycling requires a grand tour leader to give away stages for absolutely nothing in return — that nobody was making it.

Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images

On the contrary, unless one of his teammates can get a win (unlikely), Pogačar is more or less duty bound to fight for as many stages as he can nab. It’s a pretty simple matter: your team likes working for you when they know you’ll deliver, and every leader needs this kind of loyal, motivated support. So it is 100% Pogačar’s job to finish off the stage wins, give the team another morale boost, and pocket a check that he can spread around to everyone who deserves a share of it. That’s what stage wins are about. And you don’t give them away unless you get something better back, like a GC victory or something.

Obvious point. Less obvious is that this entire Giro is actually about the Tour de France.

OK, not entire, I’m sure growing up in Slovenia meant that he had some feelings about Italy, possibly even good ones, and winning the second-greatest race on Earth so close to hime (really close on stage 19) will be cool. Other than that though, this is about team-building and prepping for late June.

And Pogs is doing an absolutely perfect job. Look, for all I know he wishes he were eight minutes up and is going to go completely berserk next week, but I doubt it. Right now Pogačar is in the perfect spot, and I suspect he will keep it that way. His goal is two-part: to win the Giro d’Italia (natch) and to do it with as little stress as possible.

107th Giro d’Italia 2024 - Stage 7

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