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Tour of Italy: Pogacar already sees life in pink

Like Marco Pantani twenty-five years earlier, Tadej Pogacar experienced a mechanical problem at the foot of the climb towards the Oropa sanctuary, before winning solo in the 2nd stage of the Tour of Italy and to wear the leader's pink jersey.

For his debut in the Tour of Italy, Pogacar wastes no time: 3rd in the first stage the day before, the Slovenian won, as widely anticipated, a stage with a profile that suited him perfectly with his climb final long of 11.8 km, with portions at 14%.

But the day of the big favorite of this 107th edition of the Tour of Italy does not have for It was a walk in the park.

First, his UAE team had to come back to the group of five breakaways who had started from the first of the 161 kilometers which counted until 'at 4 min 30 sec in advance.

The last survivor of this 100% Italian breakaway, Andrea Piccolo, gave the favorites a hard time and did not was recaptured only six kilometers from the finish.

Tour of Italy: Pogacar already sees life in pink

Slovenian Tadej Pogacar after his victory in the 2nd stage of the Tour of Italy between San Francesco al Campo and the Sanctuary of Oropa on May 5, 2024 © AFP – Luca Bettini

But before getting there, UAE had to manage a setback for its leader. Victim of a puncture at the foot of the final climb, Pogacar saw his front wheel slip away at the entrance to a bend and fell, in slow motion and without gravity.

– “I wasn't afraid” –

“I wasn't afraid (after the fall), there was a little confusion with the car, I wanted to stop before the turn, not after, but everything is fine”, he explained afterwards.

Joined by a car of his team and awaited by two teammates, the double winner of the Tour de France found himself left behind by around twenty seconds from the other favorites, before returning without panicking, at the head of the peloton.

His disappointment and then his return are reminiscent of the stroke of brilliance of Marco Pantani, winner in Oropa just 25 years ago despite a chain break, also at the foot of the climb, during the 15th stage of the Tour of Italy 1999, before being excluded from the Giro a few days later for a hematocrit level that was too high.

Tour of Italy: Pogacar already sees life in pink

Slovenian Tadej Pogacar during the 2nd stage of the Tour of Italy between San Francesco al Campo and the Oropa sanctuary on May 5, 2024 © AFP – Luca Bettini

Like Pantani who at the time fell on the Frenchman Laurent Jalabert, Pogacar took down his rivals one by one to sign his first stage victory in the Giro and complete an impressive triptych with at least one stage victory in each of the three Grand Tours.

“It was one of my dreams to achieve this hat-trick, few riders have achieved it”, explained the Slovenian who achieved the second fastest Oropa climb in history, 27 seconds behind Pantani's record.

– Overall damage –

On the finish line, “Pogi”, who dreams of imitating Pantani, the last to have completed the Tour of Italy/Tour de France double in the same year, in 1998, beat the Colombian Daniel Martinez , 2nd, and the Welshman Geraint Thomas, 3rd, by 27 sec.

“The objective of winning a stage and taking the pink jersey has been achieved”, said congratulated the Slovenian who won Liège-Bastogne-Liège this year, his sixth Monument.

“We will be able to stay safe during the next stages which will be favorable to the sprinters. It doesn't matter if we lose the pink jersey, the goal is to have it when we arrive in Rome” on May 26, he insisted.

After only two stages, Pogacar has already done significant damage to the general ranking.

Martinez and Thomas are 45 seconds behind while Australian Ben O'Connor is relegated to 1 min 24 sec. The Frenchman Romain Bardet, at 2 min 31 sec, or the Colombian Nairo Quintana, more than six minutes behind, will have difficulty being on the final podium in Rome.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116