For the third year in a row, Tadej Pogacar wins the last Monument of the year and puts his seal on the final page of the cycling season. The Slovenian will once again have registered his name in each chapter of the year. In the spring, winner of Paris-Nice, the Amstel Gold Race, the Flèche Wallonne and the Tour of Flanders. This summer, second in the Tour de France with two stage victories and bronze medalist at the world championships. Finally this fall, winner of his fifth Monument at the age of 25 on this Tour of Lombardy. He is the first to win the Classic of Dead Leaves three times in a row since Fausto Coppi (1946, 1947, 1948), winner five times.
A monumental descent
Without being airy on Saturday, Tadej Pogacar was the most enterprising and his legs responded well to his still intact appetite. At the start of the afternoon, Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step) first fell 110 kilometers from the finish and returned to the peloton badly damaged. He didn’t manage to follow the best when they broke away, like Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) who didn’t have the legs and who probably also had his mind elsewhere for his last professional race.
Meanwhile, the UAE Team Emirates launched hostilities in the Passo di Ganda (9.2km at 7.3%), the last real pass of the day. First by Adam Yates, who attacked first while Tadej Pogacar and Primoz Roglic (Jumbo Visma) scored. Then, when the Briton is taken over, by Pogacar himself. But the double winner of the Tour was not much stronger than his competitors, and no one had managed to make the difference at the top of the Passo di Ganda, where there were still six who could win: the two Slovenes, Vlasov, Bagioli , Simon Yates and Carlos Rodriguez.
From the start, 30 kilometers from the finish, “Pogi” threw himself headlong into the descent, taking his Slovenian rival by surprise, who was less comfortable with the exercise. Launched with a bang, he quickly took an already decisive twenty seconds, taking advantage of a slight marking between his opponents, and was never seen again despite legs which almost gave up on him with cramps 12 kilometers from the goal. But Pogacar was perhaps the strongest in the end, and he won with more than 50 seconds ahead of Andrea Bagioli (Soudal Quick-Step) who settled the chasing group in a sprint ahead of Primoz Roglic, third.
A dream twilight
When fall arrives, some leaves fall earlier than others. Thibaut Pinot chose to retire at the end of a successful 2023 season, to end his career in style and well before fading. For his last year, he notably ran a fantastic Tour of Italy at the end of which he won the azzurro jersey for the best climber and finished in 5th place in the General Classification, twice coming very close to the victory of ‘stage. This weekend, he bowed out of the race which gave him the greatest success of his career, his only Monument, in 2018.
Honored by his peers at the start, celebrated by his supporters on arrival, Thibaut Pinot experienced farewells like few others do, with hundreds of fans gathered in the Colle Aperto to form the “Curva Pinot”, and thank him for emotions that he offered cycling fans throughout his career. Arriving with his teammates almost nine minutes after the winner, Pinot can leave the professional world serene and proud of a career which will not be forgotten in the great history of the little queen.
The complete classification of the race:
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