Mathieu van der Poel makes it two in attritional stage –

Mathieu van der Poel makes it two in attritional stage –

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Mathieu van der Poel edged a solo victory on the wet, attritional stage of Tirreno-Adriatico on Sunday.

The Alpecin-Fenix ace had ridden clear at fifty kilometers to go to grow a near-three-minute lead before a late chase from Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates) set up a nail-biting closing 1500 meters that saw van der Poel only narrowly hang on for victory by ten seconds.

Van der Poel crossed the line and collapsed in exhaustion after being pushed to the limit on the storm-swept hilly parcours. The victory is his second of the race and fourth of the season.

Tough day out for van der Poel. Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images

Pogačar had attacked out of the GC group in the final 17km to drop Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), who finished third on the stage. The Slovenian’s aggressive ride saw him extend his classification lead to 1:15 with just a sprint stage and short TT remaining.

The so-called “Stage of the Walls” took the bunch around four loops of a relentless closing circuit that included the Casteldiardo climb, which packed a one-kilometer, 15 percent stretch. The tough course, heavy rain, and high wind saw Sergio Higuita (EF-Nippo) among those of many suffering, and the Colombian finished back in the bunch, losing his overnight spot on the GC podium in the process.

Van der Poel makes moves at 65km to go

Van der Poel made his winning move at around 65km to go as the early break of five dangled around 20 seconds up the road. The Dutchman accelerated twice in short succession to shatter the peloton into several small groups before the action condensed to a bunch of around 30, including those that had been in the break.

Egan Bernal (Ineos) was next to attack, pulling Higuita, van der Poel, van Aert and Pogačar out of the group. The move fizzled out at around 50km to go but van der Poel kept motoring alone as he began his long solo to the line.

Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) dropped off the pace early on, struggling with the cold.

GC favorites suffer in the weather

With van der Poel vanished up the road and posing no GC threat, Davide Formolo (UAE-Emirates) set the pace for Pogačar as the classification leaders waited for the next move. Higuita had started the day in third but popped off the pace as the grizzly weather and relentless terrain took its toll.

The GC group left van der Poel to ride clear as the leaders waited for the final throwdown. As the pace eased slightly, the heavy rain and constant high winds left riders starting to suffer, with van Aert and Bernal going back to team cars for jackets and gloves.


Pogačar pounces at 17km to go

Pogačar made his move at 17km to go, accelerating away from van Aert on the steep slopes of the Casteldiardo to bridge across to Fabio Felline (Astana-Premier Tech) and Marc Soler (Movistar), who had made a chase for podium places around 5km earlier.

Van Aert dashed off in pursuit of the Slovenian, though Pogačar was relentless as he looked to gain time on the GC. The Jumb0-Visma rider chased hard, but with Pogačar on the charge, there was no bringing him back as he rode toward second-place and an extended GC lead.

Pogačar ate into van der Poel’s near-three minute lead as the Dutch ace looked to be running out of gas after his long solo move. The Slovenian had the lone race-leader in his eyeline through the closing 1500 meters, but van der Poel gutted out the closing minutes of the race to secure the win.

Tirreno-Adriatico Stage 5 Results

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