Tadej Pogacar had warned. “The real Giro will begin [Saturday], with the time trial and barbaric stages,” assured the Slovenian cyclist from the UAE Emirates team, Friday May 17, on the eve of the 14th stage of the Tour d’ Italy 2024. But for the double winner of the Tour de France, who admitted that he “can’t wait”, the “real” Giro resembled exactly the start of the transalpine race, the roads of which he is discovering this year. The day after a 31 km time trial finished in second place – behind the exercise specialist Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) – the pink jersey won, Sunday May 19, the 15th and longest stage of the Giro 2024, linking Manerba del Garda to Livigno. His fourth victory of the edition, already.

In this 222 km stage, the longest of the 2024 Giro, with 5,400 m of altitude difference and three first category passes – including the formidable Mortirolo – Tadej Pogacar took off 13 km from the finish, in the penultimate ascent. Leaving the group of favorites behind, battered for miles by the steamroller of the UAE Emirates, the Slovenian champion left no chance to the various survivors of the day’s breakaway, catching up and dropping the last one, the Colombian Nairo Quintana ( Movistar), under the two kilometer banner.

Alone in the world, cutting through the crowds near the slopes of the Mottolino ski resort, Tadej Pogacar won his fourth victory of the Tour of Italy without difficulty, the third with the leader’s pink jersey on his back. . “It’s a very difficult stage, we’ll see how it goes,” noted the Slovenian at the start of the race on Sunday morning. The goal is to keep the jersey and not waste time. Winning and adding this stage to my record is a huge motivation. » As is often the case with training leader UAE Emirates, actions followed.

Having increased his lead over his main rivals by 2.50 m, Tadej Pogacar is getting closer to a first coronation in the Tour of Italy, even before the third week of racing. In the general classification, the Slovenian now has a comfortable lead of 6 m 41 over his runner-up, Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers). The one who is aiming for the Tour of Italy-Tour de France double won his eleventh victory of the season on Sunday. A “barbarian stage”, flown over, which leaves little doubt about the outcome of the Giro.

“It’s Tadej, we know it… we just have to keep trying, that’s all we can do,” said Geraint Thomas, winner last year, quoted by L’Equipe on Saturday. Once again relegated to the rank of stooges, the Slovenian’s opponents have little illusion, and know that barring a fall, they will fight to complete the podium.