photos credits @ Paris-Nice
Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) claimed the final stage of this year’s Paris-Nice today, sealing the overall title for the Slovenian rider after trumping atop the climb of the Col d’Èze.
Meanwhile, Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) claimed second place after another day in which the superiority of his rival was made clearer still. The Dane out kicked David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ), who took third on the stage to finish runner-up overall, sandwiched between the past two Tour de France champions, followed by Simon Yates (Jayco-AlUla), who kicked off hostilities on Col d’Eze.
“I always feel I’m good in the first races,” said Pogacar. “It was always my dream to win Paris-Nice. The fact I did it is incredible.
“They say attack is the best defence. I really know these roads. I’ve done a lot of training here. I knew exactly how my legs were on the final climb and how much [energy] I could spend to get to the top.
“I had good maths today, I calculated it great! If I don’t win anything until the end of the season it’s still not bad so I can be more relaxed.”
Pogačar carried a 12-second advantage over Gaudu and 58 seconds to Vingegaard coming into the day, but added two seconds to his lead when he came third at the intermediate sprint.
Uno-X pair Jonas Gregaard and Alexander Kristoff were in the breakaway, with the former vying to win the King of the Mountains classification.
He was first over the Cote de Levens and Cote de Chateauneuf, so to secure the polka-dot jersey in the middle of the stage.
Fourteen other riders had now joined Gregaard in the breakaway, including Stefan Kung (Groupama FDJ), Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious), Ion Izagirre (Cofidis) and Oliver Naesen (Ag2R-Citroen) but they couldn’t build a gap of more than two minutes.
In the meantime, UAE Team Emirates were working hard on the front for Pogačar, as Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious) launched a second attack of the day, went past the breakaway and was in the lead by himself with 50km remaining.
Poels was caught by the diminished bunch, which had around 16 riders left, with 25 km to go as just the Col d’Eze was left to tackle.
Pogačar went for it with around 4km from the top of the climb and simply rode away from everyone else.
Gaudu tried his best to chase him, but fell back into the chasing group who were 52 seconds behind with 10km to go, most of which was descending.
While Pogačar cruised to victory, Vingegaard took second place from Gaudu on the line but nobody could get close to the two-time Tour de France champion.
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