Pogacar blows away everyone on time trial to extend Giro lead to more than 2 minutes

PERUGIA, Italy (AP) — It looks as though no one will stop Tadej Pogacar from winning the Giro d’Italia on his debut, despite there being two weeks left of the Italian grand tour.

Pogacar blew everyone away on the seventh stage on Friday in winning the lengthy individual time trial, and strengthened his grip on the pink jersey.

The Slovenian star extended his overall lead to 2 minutes, 36 seconds over Daniel Martinez, and 2:46 over Geraint Thomas, who had been second at the start of the day, 46 seconds behind Pogacar.

“After the world championships last year, today was my first race on the TT bike again,” Pogacar said. "It was a lot of preparation for this and a lot of ups and downs since last year in the time trial so I’m super happy that today I felt good.

“I started a bit with an easier pace, I had to get used to the TT bike. Then I paced myself until the climb and I climbed full gas.”

Two-time Tour de France winner Pogacar is attempting the Giro-Tour double this year.

Time trial specialist Filippo Ganna seemed on course for the victory and the Italian was practically celebrating in the leader’s chair when Pogacar trailed him by 47 seconds at the start of the final six-kilometer climb to Perugia.

But Pogacar flew up the fourth-category climb to beat Ganna by 17 seconds, much to everyone’s astonishment.

A disappointed Ganna reportedly turned down interview requests as he walked away immediately after the stage ended.

There was also more time trial misery for his Ineos Grenadiers teammate Thomas, who last year lost the Giro lead and the race on the penultimate day's time trial.

“Nothing to do with the wind (today), it’s just I tried to ride within myself and when it was time to go, I felt okay but just lacked it a bit,” Thomas said.

“It is what it is. It’s just one of those days.”

The stage was the first of only two time trials at this Giro, and at 41 kilometers (25 miles) was the longest at the Italian grand tour in nine years.

The Giro hits the high mountains on Saturday's eighth stage, which has been given a five-star rating for maximum difficulty.

It has the race’s second uphill finish with a top-category climb of more than 14 kilometers (nine miles) to Prato di Tivo. The riders will also be constantly ascending or descending, with no flat sectors on the 152-kilometer (94-mile) route from Spoleto that features two other categorized climbs.

The Giro ends in Rome on May 26.


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