Cycling: Tadej Pogacar wins the Tour of Lombardy, his second monument

Tadej Pogacar ends the year 2021 on a new twist. The Slovenian, winner of his second Tour de France in July, offered himself a Monument to conclude his season. UAE leader Emirates won the Tour of Lombardy on Saturday 9 October, ahead of Italian Fausto Masnada (Deceuninck Quick-Step). A second Monument for Pogacar, 23, already winner of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, in April. Julian Alaphilippe finished 6th, just ahead of David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) and Romain Bardet (Team DSM).

On the long road to Bergamo, a breakaway quickly formed, with ten riders including the Frenchman Thomas Champion (Cofidis). A number too low to hope to resist the return of the favorites. Without panicking, the peloton managed its delay, gradually reducing it over the climbs. To finally swallow the last resistance, 56 kilometers from Bergamo.

In the peloton, in fact, hostilities started a little earlier. 85 kilometers from the finish, in the ascent of Berbenno. A group of five runners, including George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) and Pavel Sivakov (Ineos-Grenadier), attempted a first flight, for only a few kilometers. The Franco-Russian tried his luck again in the Dossena, this time with Romain Bardet in the wheel, but without more success.

Then there was the Passo di Ganda and its 7% average over 9 kilometers to make the difference, 39 kilometers from the finish. The pace set by Tiesj Benoot (Team DSM), for his teammate Bardet, thinned the peloton. But this good preparatory work finally benefited Tadej Pogacar, who left alone five kilometers from the summit. Down since his third place at the Tokyo Games at the end of July, the Slovenian recalled that, on a good day, he decides everything, and alone.

The double winner of the Tour de France took advantage of the descent, and the wait-and-see attitude of his pursuers, to take up to 45 seconds in advance. Julian Alaphilippe tried to answer, before falling into line and sending his second, Fausto Masnada, in pursuit of Pogacar. A means of pressure, certainly risky, on the other seven favorites, condemned to ride to avoid seeing the final play out for two, and without them.

Freed from his role as a team mate, Masnada swooped down on Pogacar, to finally catch up with him at the bottom of the final descent, 15 kilometers from the finish line. The Italian, with Alaphilippe at about forty seconds, obviously did not collaborate with the Slovenian, letting him open the road to Bergamo. The only solution to hope to surprise Pogacar, superior on paper.

The Slovenian tried to take down his unexpected opponent in the last difficulty, a short wall three kilometers from the finish. Masnada held on, enough to afford a final sprint in his hometown, in these streets he has traveled so much. But even public support could not bridge the gap between the Italian and the prodigy Tadej Pogacar. Two Monuments and the Tour de France, a new historic achievement at only 23 years old. And probably not the last.

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