An insolent demonstration: Tadej Pogacar flew over the Strade Bianche on Saturday, the Italian classic which takes stony paths, to win on the Piazza del Campo in Siena after a solitary breakaway of more than 50 kilometers. Double winner of the Tour de France, Pogacar pushed back his next, the Spaniard Alejandro Valverde (41), about forty seconds in the heart of the medieval city of Siena. The Dane Kasper Asgreen took third place at the end of the 184 kilometers of this recently created race (2007) but very popular in the peloton.
“No one could follow so I continued”
Pogacar was caught in a maxi-fall which affected part of the peloton about a hundred kilometers from the finish. But he was able to continue the race just like the world champion Julian Alaphilippe, author of a spectacular cabriole. Unafraid of the distance to the finish, the Slovenian went on the attack in a long gravel sector to secure an advantage of almost a minute and a half over the peloton, with Spaniard Carlos Rodriguez intercalated.
If he lost around thirty seconds on his first pursuers before the last 20 kilometers, he then managed the gap both on the stony sectors and on the bitumen. He even offered himself the luxury of clapping in the hand of one of his supporters at the foot of the final ramp.
” It’s incredible ! “, relativized the outgoing winner of the Tour in relation to his superiority. “I was always looking behind where the others were, it was really very intense”. Asked about his long attack, he explained: “I tried to give the maximum and nobody could follow. So I continued…”
Alaphilippe diminished by a fall, Valverde indestructible
In the absence of the two previous winners (Wout van Aert in 2020, Mathieu van der Poel in 2021), Pogacar achieved a number comparable to those of the Swiss Fabian Cancellara in the cobbled classics of the early 2010s, van der Poel and van Aert more recently. Winner last year of two of the five “monuments” (Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Tour of Lombardy), he plans to run four of these great classics this season, the next being Milan-Sanremo on March 19.
He will find Julian Alaphilippe there, who could not really defend his chances after suffering the most spectacular fall among the riders who fell. The Frenchman, who we saw stretching his back several times at the end of the race, rode for his teammate Asgreen, before putting on the indicator more than 10 kilometers from the finish.