For the suspense, we’ll come back… As expected, Tadej Pogacar took control of the Tour of Italy, Sunday May 5, on the slopes of the Oropa sanctuary, where he won the 2nd stage alone.

The leader of the UAE Emirates team, huge favorite for the 107th edition of the Giro, whose arrival will be judged on May 26 in Rome, beat the Colombian Daniel Martinez (Bora-Hansgrohe), 2nd, and the Welsh Geraint Thomas ( Ineos Grenadiers), 3rd, by 27 seconds at the end of 161 kilometers. In the general classification, Pogacar, now wearing the leader’s pink jersey, is ahead of Thomas and Martinez by 45 seconds.

The Slovenian, however, experienced a small scare when he fell in slow motion after a puncture, a few kilometers from the foot of the final climb. Waited for by two teammates, Pogacar quickly returned to the peloton of favorites, which he broke apart about four kilometers from the finish by placing a formidable acceleration.

His disappointment then his return to the head of the race recalled the brilliant stroke of the Italian Marco Pantani, winner in Oropa just twenty-five years ago despite a chain break at the foot of the climb, during the 15th stage of the Tour of Italy 1999. “I wasn’t really afraid [after my fall], there was a bit of confusion with [his sporting director’s] car, I wanted to stop before the turn, not afterwards, but everything is fine,” explained upon arrival.

Stage winner on the three Grand Tours

Thanks to this victory, Pogacar, who is participating in the Giro for the first time, is now part of the closed circle of riders who have won stages in the three Grand Tours (France, Italy, Spain). “It was one of my dreams to achieve this hat-trick in the Grand Tours, few riders have achieved it,” said the Slovenian.

“We said to ourselves that we would attack 3 or 4 kilometers from the finish, we didn’t really know the last climb, but we did a good job. The objective of winning a stage and taking the pink jersey has been achieved, we will be able to stay safe during the next stages, which will be favorable to the sprinters,” indicated the double winner of the Tour de France (2020 and 2021).

Saturday in Turin, Pogacar had already placed third in the inaugural stage, only beaten in the sprint by the Ecuadorian Jhonatan Narvaez (Ineos Grenadiers) and the German Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe).

Tadej Pogacar is aiming for a rare feat, the Tour d’Italia-Tour de France double in the same year, which was won by only seven big names in cycling: Fausto Coppi (1949 and 1952), Jacques Anquetil (1964), Eddy Merckx (1970, 1972 and 1974), Bernard Hinault (1982 and 1985), Stephen Roche (1987), Miguel Indurain (1992 and 1993) and Marco Pantani, in 1998.

The first Frenchman in the general classification is Alex Baudin (Décathon-AG2R La Mondiale), 13th, 1 minute and 38 seconds behind Pogacar. Romain Bardet (DSN) is 22nd, 2 minutes and 31 seconds behind the Slovenian. As for Julian Alaphilippe, he quickly let go on the last climb this Sunday, finishing the stage in 60th place, 7 minutes and 24 seconds behind the winner of the day.