Tadej Pogačar wins the Strade Bianche with long-range attacks

SIENA, Italy – Two-time Tour de France champion Tadej Pogačar showed his dominance with an unprecedented long-distance solo attack to win the Strade Bianche.

It was a different story in the women’s race, where Belgian champion Lotte Kopecky held back double champion Annemiek van Vleuten in a two-women sprint.

Pogačar attacked with 50 kilometers (31 miles) left in the 184-kilometer race through Tuscany on the eighth of 11 sections of white gravel roads. The Slovenian with UAE Team Emirates quickly opened an advantage of more than a minute and finished 37 seconds ahead of 41-year-old Alejandro Valverde and 46 seconds ahead of Kasper Asgreen from Denmark.

“I did not really plan my attack, but Monte Sante Maria is always the most important point in the race,” said Pogačar. “I expected riders to come along, but no one did, so I had no choice but to commit 100% to reaching the finish line solo.”

In the race’s 16-year history, no one had come close to carrying out an attack so far from goal. The second longest successful attack was made by 2007 champion Alexandr Kolobnev, who made his move 19 kilometers (12 miles) from the finish in 2007 – the first year the race was held.

To make things more impressive was that Pogačar was involved in a mass crash early in the race. He came from there with some scratches and a missing handlebar, which forced him to change bikes.

“I suffered a lot in the last 40 to 50 kilometers,” Pogačar said. “There were moments where I thought my legs would explode and I would go to the finish line. I certainly did not have time for sightseeing. I won because I had no pressure from my team for this race and I am really do not care about the pressure from the outside world. “

Valverde also came back from a crash.

“Next to Pogacar, it’s like a victory,” said the Spanish veteran, the 2018 world champion.

Two-time reigning world champion Julian Alaphilippe was dropped towards the end after he was also beaten in a fall – which opened the way for Quick-Step teammate Asgreen to aim for the podium.

Earlier, Kopecky held back the more experienced Van Vleuten on the super steep final climb to Siena’s Piazza del Campo and then jumped to the line. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, a teammate of Kopecky on the Sd Worx squad, finished in third place, 10 seconds behind.

“I was pretty sure before the race that I could do this on the last climb. It’s explosive and it suits me, ”Kopecky said. “When Annemiek could not let go of me, it was very good for my self-confidence. … It was just a sprint to the corner. I did not want to slow down. “

Next up for Pogačar is to defend his title in the week-long Tirreno-Adriatico.

Tadej Pogačar wins Strade Bianche with long-range attack originally shown on NBCSports.com

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