UAE Team Emirates’ Tadej Pogacar crosses the finish line to win the Strade Bianche cycling race in Siena.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
From the Emirati desert to the dust of the Siena hills: Tadej Pogacar adds another pearl to his collection of prestigious successes, winning the 2022 edition of the Strade Bianche one-day cycling classic on Saturday.
The magnificent landscapes of Tuscany inspired the Slovenian champion to paint a cycling masterpiece. The UAE Team Emirates rider attacked 50 km from the finish, in a downhill stretch of the dirt sector of Monte Sante Marie, crushing the resistance of all opponents.
At first, only Carlos Rodriguez (Ineos-Grenadiers) followed Pogačar thirty seconds behind, while the group of the main contenders slipped to 1’30 “.
With the passing of the kilometers, the Slovenian showed no signs of abating, while behind him the duo formed by Kasper Asgreen (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) managed to reduce the gap to under one minute, but without spoiling Pogacar’s success.
No one had ever triumphed in the Siena dirt track attacking so far (the longest winning action was that of Alexandr Kolobnev in 2007, 19.4 km).
To add drama to the day there was an accident 100 km from the finish line, in which the captain of the UAE Team Emirates was involved suffering abrasions.
Pogacar said:“It was a beautiful, incredible victory. I started from afar, and I was only sure I made it when there were about 5 kilometers to go, but even on the last climb I checked if anyone was coming behind me. I attacked in the Sante Marie sector, a part of the route that is usually crucial for the result of the race: no one followed me, so I decided to continue alone and I am happy to have managed to reach the finish line, also because they never gave up and, with the passing of the kilometers, my energy was decreasing ”.
Pogacar’s triumph comes on top of Yousif Mirza’s victory in the UAE Time Trial Championship in the morning, bringing UAE Team Emirates’ seasonal successes to 13.
The win marks the 9th career victory for the Emirati, to add to his 11 road titles, making him the most decorated road cyclist in the history of the UAE. Mirza had to overcome a puncture in the middle of this effort but showed his class to remount and cruise to victory.
Mirza said: “It was a good course for me today. It’s my 9th TT title and the 6th one in a row. I hope to make it a double next week in the road race. I had a tense moment with a flat tyre in the middle of the race, but I got through it and successfully defended the title and I’m very happy with it. Hopefully I can make it a 12th road title victory next Saturday.”
Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar has committed his future to UAE Team Emirates by signing a new deal to 2026, the cycling outfit announced on Tuesday.
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"Alhamdulilah today was my Nikah. It is a big day in my life and the start of a new chapter. Please respect my choices and those of my wife and our families. Prayers and love for all," he wrote.