Mathieu van der Poel on Sunday produced a solo break to win the fifth stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico and claim his second victory in this year’s “Race of the Two Seas.”
The Dutch national champion, who rides for Alpecin-Fenix, crossed the line alone, 10 seconds ahead of Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar, who holds the race lead.
Van der Poel emerged victorious from a sprint in the third stage, having also won the Strade Bianche on March 6 in Tuscany.
The Dutch rider broke clear of his rivals with 51km to go in “The Stage of the Walls,” raced over 205km with a series of short, but steep, climbs between Castellalto and Castelfidardo.
“I was riding completely on empty in the last few kilometers,” Van der Poel said.
“I was told that Pogacar was coming close, but I wasn’t even able to listen. I just wanted to reach the finish as fast as I could,” he said.
“I attacked from far away because I was cold and I felt good until 20km to go,” he added.
Slovenian Pogacar came back strong in the final 5km, but could not make the difference toward the finish line in the hilltop town famed for its accordion makers.
Belgian Wout van Aert of Jumbo-Visma crossed 49 seconds off the pace.
“When I saw Wout suffering, I went to try and get more time on GC [general classification], but I never thought I would be anywhere close to catching Van der Poel,” Pogacar said.
“I’m super happy with the advantage I have over Van Aert now before the time trial,” he added.
UAE Team Emirates’ Pogacar holds the overall leader’s blue jersey, with a 1 minute, 15 second advantage on Van Aert with two more stages to race.
AFP, LEVENS, France
Primoz Roglic mirrored his Tour de France last-gasp nightmare on Sunday with another collapse to lose Paris-Nice to Germany’s Maximilian Schachmann.
Roglic famously blew a strong lead on the penultimate stage of last year’s Tour, when fellow Slovenian Tadej Pogacar pulverized him in a time trial.
Defending champion Schachmann of Bora-Hansgrohe went into the final stage in second place, but ended up retaining the Paris-Nice title, as Roglic endured a turbulent day in the saddle with two falls.
“It’s not the end of the world,” said Roglic, who dislocated his shoulder in the first fall.
“It was how it was, so there’s not much to add. Of course, we are disappointed but, like I said, the world will not stop and we will go forward,” he added.
Even the champion sounded downbeat after the race.
“It’s not nice to win like that, I have mixed feelings,” the German said.
“Suddenly I’m here with the yellow jersey, but I don’t know what to think. I don’t know if I can be happy,” he added.
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