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Pogacar extends Giro lead to nearly 4 minutes after stage 14 time trial won by Ganna

DESENZANO DEL GARDA, Italy (AP) — Tadej Pogacar extended his Giro d’Italia lead to nearly four minutes after the 14th stage on Saturday when he finished second on the individual time trial to Filippo Ganna.

As the Giro prepares to head into the high mountains and the Alps, Pogacar put even more time on his rivals on the 31-kilometer (19-mile) route from Castiglione delle Stiviere to Desenzano del Garda.

The two-time Tour de France champion leads Geraint Thomas by 3 minutes, 41 seconds. Daniel Martinez dropped to third, 3:56 behind Pogacar, who is attempting to win the Giro and the Tour this year.

Pogacar has also won three stages, including the race’s only other time trial when he pipped Ganna on the seventh stage after blowing everyone away on the uphill finish.

Ganna put in another stunning ride on Saturday with an average speed of 53.4 kph to beat the previous best finisher by 1:26.

The Italian then faced a lengthy wait in the hotseat but no one could even get to within a minute of his time before Pogacar set off down the start ramp.

Ganna had almost started celebrating before he was beaten by Pogacar last time, and he nervously watched on. The Slovakia star was faster than Ganna by four seconds at the first time check but 10 seconds slower at the second, and eventually finished 29 seconds behind.

“Today, I suffered a lot,” a clearly emotional Ganna said. “I was just speaking with (sprinter) Jonathan Milan — for him it’s just 70 seconds in the sprint and then you know immediately if you win or not. Today I had to wait two hours."

It was Ganna's seventh stage win at the Giro but his first in three years.

“In the end," he said, "a little bit blocked with emotions because to win in Italy after a lot of time without a win is a really intense moment. Especially here. Across the lake it’s like a second home for me.”

Thymen Arensman was third, 1:07 slower than his Ineos Grenadiers teammate Ganna.

Sunday's 15th stage is the Queen Stage, the hardest leg of this year’s race. There are five categorized climbs and 5,200 meters of elevation on the 222-kilometer (138-mile) leg from Manerba del Garda to Livigno and the arrival at Mottolino, where the last 1,800 meters is on asphalt along a ski slope with 18% gradients.

Monday sees the race's second and final rest day before it heads to the daunting Dolomites.

The Giro ends in Rome next weekend.

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AP cycling: https://apnews.com/hub/cycling