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In Praise of Folly


If he had succeeded, it would have been yet another unthinkable masterpiece. Tadej Pogačar tried again today, even when he could have comfortably stayed in the belly of the bunch, waiting for more suitable stages. Instead, the Slovenian seems to want to race for the spectators, to put on a show, to make sure that those who are in front of the television do not say: “what a boring stage this is”.

So, he studied it to perfection: he set the team to push with 50km to go, in the space of a few kilometres he reached the early breakaway and then waited patiently for the intermediate sprint in Amelia. Everyone was convinced that Pogačar was going to sprint for a three-second bonus, but the UAE Team Emirates captain thought it would be too easy to accelerate for 200 metres and then allow 30 km of quiet time to wait for the sprint. So, he picked his most “loco” teammate, Marc Soler, and after the intermediate sprint he relaunched the pace and had some fun for a few kilometres.

He was joined by another rider who is at ease with crazy attacks, Julian Alaphilippe, who was obviously more than happy to play along and started pushing as hard as he could. Behind them, however, the peloton didn’t sleep, they smelled the danger almost immediately and all the sprinters’ teams did their best to tame the “crazy horse” Pogačar as quickly as possible. Things calmed down with 10km to go, when Pogačar and Alaphilippe’s action was cancelled, and the sprinters breathed a sigh of relief.

Needless to say, if the Slovenian starts attacking even on an almost completely flat stage (the only KOM was at the start of the stage), there really is no room for complacency. And the great thing is that the Tirreno-Adriatico has yet to offer the four most eventful stages, at least on paper, which is why you can expect fireworks as soon as the route allows it.

At the end of it all, Caleb Ewan came out on top and made it clear that in 10 days’ time he will be one of the men to beat at Milan-Sanremo. An overpowering sprint which the cobblestones of Corso del Popolo in Terni did not manage to hold back, and which allowed him to get rid of top sprinters such as Arnaud Démare and Tim Merlier.

“I’ve always had bad luck at Tirreno-Adriatico so far, with crashes and poor form, but I really wanted to win a stage sooner or later. Sanremo is one of my big goals and to get there with a win is a great motivation”. The rivals are warned.

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