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Tadej Pogačar beats Nairo Quintana on brutal Giro d’Italia stage in the Alps

Tadej Pogačar beats Nairo Quintana on brutal Giro d'Italia stage in the Alps

It was the present versus the past on Sunday’s brutal, exhausting Giro d’Italian stage in the Italian Alps, as Tadej Pogačar beat 2014 champion Nairo Quintana for the win. Pogačar destroyed his GC rivals in taking his fourth victory of the 107th edition, and now leads Geraint Thomas by 6:41 with a week to go.

The Course

Yowza! The riders faced 5400 metres of vertical gain, with a gentle grade right from the gun. Hard on the heels of the opening Cat. 3 climb was Cat. 2 Colle San Zeno. As soon as the 18-km drop off San Zeno was completed, the road rose gradually until the famous Cat. 1 Mortirolo, 12.6 km of 7.7 percent with a maximum of 16 percent. Again, the road kicked up as soon as the descent was finished, steeper this time. The two-headed beast that capped off this taxing 222-km day was the Cat. 1 Passo di Foscagno, a little dip down and then Mottolino, 4.7 km at 7.7 percent with grades up to 19 percent.

Sunday was a real doozy.

Sunday’s breakaway was immense. By the time the Mortirolo kicked up, six riders held just under a minute on a chase of 45 and 4:20 over the pink jersey peloton. As the road continued to tilt up, the sextet fragmented. By the crest, three Italians from Astana, Alpecin-Deceuninck and (inhales) VF Group-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè rode on the pointy end of the race and riders were spread all over the slopes below. The pink jersey was +4:30.

The descent of the Mortirolo is notoriously technical. Everyone stayed safe and by the rising valley floor, the front group grew to around 20 chaps. There were very few riders between what we’ll call the Julian Alaphilippe-Nairo Quintana group and the pink jersey peloton. Fifty-two kilometres remained.

Could Quintana turn back the clock and win Sunday’s climbfest?

It was a long drag to the foot of penultimate climb Passo di Foscagno. The Alaphilippe-Quintana group shrunk and split along the way, and its advantage was just over 3:00 when the day’s second Cat. 1 began.

Georg Steinhauser immediately made a strong move to go solo, Atilla Valter his closest pursuer and the rest of the group in pieces. The EF Education-Easypost German pried open a minute’s lead before Quintana made a thrust in an attempt to bridge. With 14 km left it looked like the winner would be someone in the breakaway.

After Rafal Majka wound it up for him, Tadej Pogačar attacked.

Can’t stop, won’t stop. Pogacar attacks on the penultimate climb.

Quintana joined and dispensed with Steinhauser. The pink…

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