Two Slovenian friends on Friday took charge of the Vuelta a Espana, with youngster Tadej Pogacar winning the difficult 13th stage and Primoz Roglic crossing the line just behind him to increase his overall lead.
Pogacar and Roglic moved to the front during the grueling final climb at Los Machucos, getting past breakaway leader Pierre Latour with less than 2km to go and finishing 27 seconds ahead of their closest chasers.
“It was a great day for Slovenian cycling to have the two of us at the front,” Roglic said. “We gave our whole until the finish. Tadej is of course a big talent with a big future. He is a good friend of mine, a nice guy and a rival.”
Pogacar passed Roglic with less than 1km left and held on for his second stage win in this Vuelta.
The 20-year-old rider from UAE Team Emirates also won the ninth stage.
“I can’t believe it’s my second stage win in my first Grand Tour. I’m extremely happy, so happy I can’t even describe it,” Pogacar said. “When I heard on the radio nobody was following me and Roglic, I realized it was a good opportunity. It’s difficult to go against Roglic, he’s really strong, so I’m very happy with what I’ve done today.”
Roglic, a former ski jumper riding with team Jumbo-Visma, opened a gap of 2 minutes, 25 seconds to Spaniard Alejandro Valverde in the general classification.
Pogacar moved to third place overall, but was more than three minutes behind Roglic.
Valverde was fourth in the 166km stage, behind Latour and ahead of Movistar teammate Nairo Quintana.
The stage started with the peloton going around the field at Athletic Bilbao’s San Mames Stadium in Bilbao. Riders then faced seven mountain passes.
They were to get a relative break yesterday in a 188km flat stage that was to finish in Oviedo.
Pogacar teammate Fabio Aru did not race on Friday because of a muscle injury.
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