Tadej Pogačar attacks his way to stage win and GC lead – VeloNews.com

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Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates) fended off a late chase from Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) to win stage 4 at Tirreno-Adriatico on Saturday.

Yates finished second, just a handful of seconds behind the Slovenian. The Brit had darted out of a chase group at one kilometer to go in an effort to bridge across to Pogačar after the Slovenian had ridden clear earlier in the climb.

Sergio Higuita (EF-Education Nippo) took third.

Overnight GC leader Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) finished ninth, 45 seconds back. The Belgian had been put under pressure by numerous attacks from Ineos Grenadiers and then Pogačar, and resiliently towed a small GC group through the final half of the 15-kilometer Prato di Tivo Summit.

Pogačar now moves into the leader’s jersey, with a 35-second lead over both van Aert and Higuita, who are level on time.

“Today was a very hard stage,” Pogačar said. “My team did a great job bringing down the gap from the breakaway and then I did my best on the climb. I am very satisfied with this win.”

Pogačar now has to defend his lead through a very tough hilly stage Sunday, a sprint stage and final short time trial.

“Now I am in the lead, but tomorrow we have another really hard stage, and with the final ITT anything can still happen,” he said.

Ineos Grenadiers piles the pressure before Pogačar pounces

As expected, the action all boiled down to the final kilometers of the race’s queen stage and its grinding mountaintop finish.

Egan Bernal punched out of a select GC group at around eight kilometers to go, with Pogačar first to jump to his wheel before Van Aert, Yates, Geraint Thomas (Ineos), João Almeida and Julian Alaphilippe (both Deceuninck-Quick-Step), Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo), Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious) and around a dozen more bridged across. Thomas was next to attack, forcing van Aert to lead the chase.

With Thomas up the road, Pogačar launched his winning attack, bridging across to his Tour de France rival before the pair motored past final breakaway rider Mads Würtz Schmidt (Israel Start-Up Nation).

After sharing turns with Thomas for a half kilometer, Pogačar punched away with five kilometers to go, leaving the Welshman to pop and fall off the pace.

With Pogačar around 5 seconds up the road and Thomas dropped, Bernal attacked again, provoking a flurry of counters. Having set the tempo for the previous five kilometers, van Aert and a handful more GC riders were distanced as Bernal, Landa and Yates formed a trio chasing Pogačar.

Yates began his quest for victory at around one kilometer to go, attacking out of the chase trio to drop Bernal and Landa and launch his solo chase of Pogačar, setting up the tense final pursuit race to the line.

Van Aert’s relentless tempo in the reduced GC group scooped up Landa and Bernal before blowing the former Tour champ off the back of the group as the Jumbo-Visma ace resiliently looked to limit his losses.

Three escapees last to final climb

Würtz Schmidt, Mattia Bais (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), Benjamin Thomas (Groupama-FDJ), Marco Canola (Gazprom-RusVelo) and Emil Vinjebo (Qhubeka Assos) went away early and were allowed a very long leash and enjoyed around eight minutes of a lead through the middle of the stage.

Canola and Vinjebo were first to pop at around 50km to go, leaving just Thomas, Bais and Würtz Schmidt out front with a four-minute advantage at the base of the Prato di Tivo climb.

Würtz Schmidt piled on the tempo through the lower slopes of the climb, dropping both Thomas and Bais to leave the burly Dane out front alone.

Ineos Grenadiers put its whole squad onto the front of the bunch for Thomas and Bernal on the long, shallow climb while Pogačar looked isolated in the 40-strong lead group. Van Aert still had Tobias Foss for support.

Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) sat up early, knowing his chances on the interminable climb were minimal.

What’s to come

Stage 5 on Sunday could prove equally important for GC riders. The 205km stage finishes on a closing circuit littered with short, extra steep hills that could see major splits and shakeups. Stage 6 is likely one for sprinters before a closing short time trial Tuesday.

Tirreno-Adriatico Stage 4 Results

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