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Tadej Pogacar lays down the gauntlet with stage 2 victory in the 2024 Giro d’Italia

Tadej Pogacar took control of the 2024 Giro d’Italia on Sunday with his first Grand Tour stage win, blowing his rivals to the summit finish at the Sanctuary of Oropa and taking the overall leader’s pink jersey.

The Slovenian, competing in his first Giro, narrowly missed out on victory in Saturday’s opening stage but made it clear he is the man to beat with a trademark burst at the end of the final tough climb to leave his rivals behind with his signature swagger.

Live now · May 4-26, 11:40 UTC

The pre-race favorite wants to become the first man to win the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France double since Marco Pantani in 1998, attacking on a mountain climb full of tributes to the late Italian.

UAE rider Pogacar bounced back from a crash just as the peloton approached the climb towards Oropa and turned on the afterburners with four kilometers to go of the 161-kilometre second stage.

Pogacar has now won a stage in all three of cycling’s Grand Tours, and after his eighth victory in just twelve days of competitive racing in 2024, the 25-year-old looks unstoppable as the Giro makes its way to Rome later this month.

“It was always in my mind to get all three stage wins,” said Pogacar. “It’s something that not many riders have, and it’s a big thing in cycling, so I’m super happy. They called me up and we set a pace that we liked, so it was perfect.”

Pogacar, a two-time Tour de France winner, finished 27 seconds ahead of Daniel Martinez and another of his main rivals Geraint Thomas, depriving Saturday winner Jhonatan Narvaez of the pink jersey.

Thomas said after the stage that “Tadej is Tadej” with a shrug after falling 45 seconds behind Pogacar in the general classification.

Pogacar’s Giro ‘Dream’

Monday’s third stage gives Pogacar and its general classification rivals a break with a largely flat 166 kilometer stage between Novara and Fossano that looks good for the sprinters.

“I just wanted the stage win… the dream was to take the pink jersey, and now I can relax a bit in the coming days and we stay safe in the sprints,” Pogacar added.

A day that ended with fireworks started slowly, as a group of five Italian riders, including former Giro stage winner Davide Bais, built a two-and-a-half-minute lead over the peloton during an easy run towards the first climb. and the day’s descent to Crocemosso with about 65 kilometers to go in the stage.

Andrea Piccolo, one of the first refugees, made an eruption of her own during the ascent of Category 3 Oasi Zagna. He built a healthy lead of over a minute over the chasing group as he started the next Nelva climb, which had a maximum gradient of 12%.

The peloton, which included all contenders in the general classification, started to reduce the three-minute gap that separated them from Piccolo on the final descent, before taking on the heavy climatic pressure towards Oropa.

There was a brief scare for Pogacar, who crashed but quickly caught up again and then moved with his teammates to the front of the peloton, which Piccolo swallowed up with 6.5 kilometers to go.

With the UAE at the head of the pack, it was only a matter of time before Pogacar attacked, and when he did, no one could keep up with him.

Thomas gave up the ghost after a brief attempt to keep up with Pogacar, who rolled into Oropa and took control of a race that already looked like he would lose.