Pogacar leads Giro by nearly 7 minutes after stunning win in Giro’s queen stage

Tadej Pogacar extended his lead in the Giro d’Italia by winning the demanding queen stage on Sunday, showcasing his dominance with a solo finish at Livigno.

Despite riding for over six hours through high mountains, Pogacar was all smiles as he crossed the finish line with arms outstretched. His victory on the 15th stage saw him finish 29 seconds ahead of Nairo Quintana and 2 minutes, 32 seconds ahead of third-place Georg Steinhauser. The Slovenian’s lead in the general classification is now a substantial 6:41 over Geraint Thomas, with Daniel Martinez in third, 6:56 behind.

The day’s route from Manerba del Garda to Livigno covered 222km and featured three first-category climbs. The riders faced 5,400 metres of elevation, with the infamous Passo del Mortirolo as the centrepiece.

From the start, there was no respite for the top contenders. A flurry of attacks saw a group of 13 break away within the first 10km, including Lilian Calmejane, Caleb Ewan, and Davide Ballerini. Mountain jersey wearer Simon Geschke missed this initial move but later joined a counter-break of nearly 40 riders.

Laurence Pithie led the break over the first climb, the Lodrino, while Geschke’s group merged with the front group on the Colle di San Zeno. This brought the breakaway total to 50 riders, featuring names like Tobias Foss, Max Schachmann, Juan Pedro López, Nairo Quintana, and Julian Alaphilippe.

As the race progressed, six riders, including Ballerini and Cristian Scaroni, pulled ahead. Their lead grew to over a minute as they approached the Mortirolo. Meanwhile, the peloton, containing all the top GC contenders, was over five minutes behind.

On the Mortirolo, the six leaders were whittled down to Scaroni and Pellizzarri, who were later joined by Nicola Conci. Scaroni claimed the maximum mountain points at the summit, boosting his blue jersey prospects.

Descending from the Mortirolo, Quintana and Michael Storer caught up with the leaders, forming a 17-man front group. With 4:20 on the reduced peloton, UAE Team Emirates and Ineos Grenadiers worked to close the gap, reducing it to 3:20 as they approached the final climbs.

Pogacar launched his decisive attack 15km from the finish, catching Quintana within 2km to go. He extended his overall lead before the second rest day, positioning himself strongly for the final week of the Giro.

Reflecting on his win, Pogacar shared, “I’ve been here a lot of times. As a first-year junior, we had a training camp at St-Moritz with the national team but we came to Livigno with our almost broken van to fill up the tank with cheaper petrol. I came back to Livigno almost every year. I have one of the nicest memories of my life here as well. I can say it: it was my first date with my fiancée Urška. Today is close to the top of the list but still far away from the number one. I’m super happy to win the queen stage here. Every Giro has its own story. Let’s see what next week brings, but I’m satisfied with the time gap I have and the team I have. We’ll make the plan for the last week tomorrow.”

Romain Bardet of Team dsm-firmenich PostNL also had a noteworthy performance, finishing fourth on the stage. After the race, he said, “I’m really happy with that ride today. I said yesterday that a new Giro started for us today. The guys rode really well to support me throughout the day, I always had someone with me and they were there until the final main climb. I’m happy to be up there and feeling good, so we will keep fighting and trying in the final week.”

Team coach Matt Winston added, “It was a good day today. The boys rode really well in the peloton and looked after Romain all day. Once we got to 2000 metres it’s where Romain really is strong so he hit out there. He managed to finish fourth on the stage and take a bit of time back on some of the guys around him, so we go into the rest day really happy with that performance.”

As the Giro d’Italia heads into its final week, Pogacar remains cautious despite his commanding lead. “Don’t jinx it. There’s still six stages to go,” he warned. “I’m super happy with the big gap. But let’s not think ahead of ourselves. Let’s go day by day and see the situation. You never know what will happen, so knock on wood.”

2024 Giro d’Italia Stage 15 result

Results powered by FirstCycling.com

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