Peerless Tadej Pogacar targets after dominating Giro d'Italia

Team UAE's Slovenian rider Tadej Pogacar celebrates in his leader’s pink jersey with the Giro d'Italia trophy. Picture: Luca Bettini / AFP

Team UAE's Slovenian rider Tadej Pogacar celebrates in his leader’s pink jersey with the Giro d'Italia trophy. Picture: Luca Bettini / AFP

Published May 27, 2024


Tadej Pogacar won the Giro d'Italia on Sunday, crossing the finish line in Rome in glorious sunshine and with the biggest winning margin in almost six decades.

The 25-year-old UAE Emirates rider won six of the 21 stages on the 3,400km tour that began in Turin, finishing 9min 56sec ahead of Colombia's Daniel Martinez of Bora while Geraint Thomas of Ineos was 10min 24sec off the winning pace in third.

The overall triumph was sealed Sunday on the 21st stage around Rome, which was won by Belgian sprinter Tim Merlier, who picked up his third stage win of the 2024 Giro.

— Lukáš Ronald Lukács (@lucasaganronald) May 26, 2024

Billed as a champion in waiting, Pogacar proved peerless taking the lead as early as stage two and rampaging across the peaks, plains and picturesque panoramas to triumph by the largest margin at any of cycling's grand tours since Vittorio Adorni won the Giro by 11min 26sec in 1965.

"I felt strong and relaxed these three weeks," said Pogacar, who was planning to celebrate with his team-mates in Rome then find a nearby beach for a few days.

"It has been a wonderful experience. I loved it," he said.

The swashbuckling Slovenian was decked out in the iconic pink leader's jersey, riding a pink bike and even arriving on a pink bus as the route raced south.

Hoping to become the first rider to win both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France since Marco Pantani in 1998, Pogacar resembled more another rider, Eddy Merckx, also known for wanting to win as many stages as possible.

He won the opening time-trial, and the following day's first major summit finish and would go on to romp home on the Queen stage in the Dolomites, doubling his lead in the process.

Italians took to Pogacar, cheering him through the dramatic port of Genoa, the chic Tuscan town of Lucca and the southern port of Naples and Pompei in the shadow of the volcanic Mount Vesuvius.

The two-time Tour de France winner had extended his lead slowly up the Adriatic coastline before the third week's relentless series of ascents and descents in the Alps.

Should Pogacar pull off the ambitious Giro-Tour double he will join a list of legends in Fausto Coppi, Jacques Anquetil, Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Stephen Roche, Miguel Indurain and Pantani.

Pogacar burst onto the scene winning three stages at the Vuelta a Espana in 2019 and coming third.

The following year he pulled off one of cycling's biggest ever surprises when he overhauled a 90-second gap on Primoz Roglic to take the lead at the very end of the Tour de France in 2020.

In 2021, Pogacar dominated the Tour to claim back-to-back triumphs, before a rival emerged in the form of Danish Visma rider Jonas Vingegaard.

The wispy Dane has dominated Pogacar on the very toughest mountain stages, allowing Pogacar to tack up the stage wins as he himself remained firmly focussed on the overall.

Merckx stated in 2023 that for now the Dane was the best Grand Tour rider, but Vingegaard is scrambling to achieve top fitness for the Tour de France after a nasty crash at the Tour of the Basque Country.

While Pogacar had no visible rival at the Giro, Vingegaard will be just one hazard to watch out for on the French roads, with Belgian maverick Remco Evenepoel, Colombian climber Egan Bernal and old foe Roglic all muddying the waters on a wide-open roster ripe for surprises this July.