Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) won a historic victory at Il Lombardia, his second monument in 2021 and his first victory since ascending the Tour de France podium in July.
“I dreamed of this victory,” Pogačar said after the finish. “It’s great to ride with the best riders in this country.”
The Olympic road races were the young Slovenian’s first stop after the Tour de France. He clearly took his Tour form to Tokyo and finished in third place behind Richard Carapaz and Wout van Aert at the end of the 234km race. But he had mixed results from then on.
“After the trip, I was very good one day, not the next at all.”
In the end, Pogačar found his form on Italian roads and finished in fifth place behind Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Victorious) at the European Championships in Trento last month, before returning this week and driving to third and fourth at the mid-week race Tre Valli Varesine and Milano -Torino, won by Alessandro De Marchi (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) respectively.
As soon as Pogačar appeared at the front in Saturday’s Il Lombardia, his first appearance in the race, he appeared to be the Tour de France champion. No one could keep up with Passo di Gamba, and in 4 km he had won over 30 seconds. The only man who was willing and / or able to go in search of Pogačar was Fausto Masnada (Deceuninck-QuickStep), one of the few starters originating from the destination town of Bergamo.
“I did not think that after my attack I would come and ride alone. Apparently everyone was broken, ”Pogačar explained. “When I heard that Masnada was coming, I knew he was coming. He knows these roads very well. I’ve never ridden here before. ”
Pogačar had been alone for 20 km before Masnada caught him, and even then he got no help to set the pace, as Julian Alaphilippe was in the hunting group a minute after his teammate. Still, Pogačar’s dominance was unaffected and he was able to raise his arms to celebrate his 13th victory of the season.
“It’s crazy. After the whole season, it’s crazy to end the season like that. I’m speechless,” said Pogačar. “Here in Italy for a long time. Now I’m here and I took the victory, it’s just crazy.”
In his post-race interview, the 23-year-old talked more about the extraordinary consistency he has shown in recent seasons, in both stage races and classics in one day. This year, for example, he kicked things off with victory on the UAE Tour in February, winning Liège-Bastogne-Liège two months later and then taking three stages en route to another consecutive Tour de France title. And now, Il Lombardia.
“In this cycling, you have to be good in all kinds of races to be competitive in Grand Tours: you have to be good on the bike, in sprints, in time trials and one-day races,” Pogačar explained. “Everything happens in Grand Tours and you can use that experience and it helps everywhere. This is how racing will be now. There are many riders who are good at different kinds of races. I think it’s a good time to cycle. ”
Asked about his goals for the coming seasons, Pogačar’s answer was simple.
“My dream is to enjoy my cycling as much as possible. When I stop enjoying it, I will look for new goals. ”