Pogacar all but wins Giro d’Italia on debut with another stunning stage victory

Slovenia's Tadej Pogacar, wearing the pink jersey of the race overall leader, holds his bike up as he celebrates after winning the 20th stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race from Alpago to Bassano del Grappa, Italy, Saturday, May 25, 2024. (Fabio Ferrari/LaPresse via AP)

BASSANO DEL GRAPPA, Italy — Twenty down, one to go.

Two-time Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar all but secured the Giro d’Italia on Saturday on his debut in the Italian grand tour.

Pocagar once again destroyed his rivals in the mountains to claim a sixth stage win out of 20 and extend his already considerable advantage to nearly 10 minutes overall.

He has only Sunday’s mainly ceremonial ride in Rome to confirm the triumph.

“I have never been in Rome before but I’m going to enjoy it for sure,” Pogacar said with a smile.

The Slovenian cycling star has dominated the Giro in style.

He was all smiles as he soloed to victory following an attack on Monte Grappa. The UAE Team Emirates rider sat up, waved to the crowds as they roared him on, stretched out his arms and bowed as he crossed the line.

Pogacar finished the 184-kilometre (114-mile) leg from Alpago to Bassano del Grappa two minutes, seven seconds ahead of Valentin Paret-Peintre and Daniel Martinez.

That saw him extend his overall winning advantage to 9:56 over Martinez and 10:24 over third-placed Geraint Thomas.

Pogacar is attempting to the Giro-Tour double this year, a feat that hasn’t been achieved since 1998 by Marco Pantani.

“We had the pink jersey from stage 2, a lot of obligations every day, a lot of things to do all day … today was just another test before summer to see how it is,” Pogacar said.

“I wanted to finish the Giro with good mentality, good shape and I think I achieved that. I will enjoy after the Giro and then good preparation.”

Pogacar raised his pink bicycle above his head in celebration.

In all reality, the job was finished about a week ago, so dominant has Pogacar been in his first Giro.

He had said he wanted to win the penultimate stage and there was a feeling of inevitability when he set off less than a third of the way into the second ascent of the first-category climb to Monte Grappa.

There were 5.4 kilometres of the brutal climb remaining and Pogacar was 49 seconds behind leader Giulio Pellizzari, who has emerged as a potential future star at this race despite being the youngest in the Giro.

Pogacar caught Pellizzari within 800 metres and, cheered on by huge crowds and miles ahead of everyone else, he crested Monte Grappa with a lead of 1:35 before stretching that on the mostly downhill finish.

The race will transfer to Rome for the largely processional 125-kilometre (78-mile) final leg through the streets of the capital, ending near the Colosseum.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.