'I'm not unbeatable' says Pogacar after another crushing victory
Tadej Pogacar continued his dominant start to the season on the sixth stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico on Saturday and then insisted "I never think I'm unbeatable".
The Slovenian, who won the race last year, outrode an elite group on the last mountain and will enter Sunday's final stage almost two minutes ahead.
At 23, Pogacar has already won the Tour de France twice and has started this year in all-conquering form.
This is the Team UAE rider's third race of the season and he won the first two, the multi-day UAE Tour and the Strade Bianche, a one-day classic.
"I never think I'm unbeatable, even when I'm first. I always think someone can come back, pick me up and attack. I'm always careful. I never underestimate anyone," he said.
The action on Saturday was concentrated on two climbs up snowy Monte Carpegna in the final 32 kilometres of a 215 kilometre stage from Apecchio to the town of Carpegna.
As the peloton disintegrated on the first ascent, Pogacar was part of a 21-rider group that overhauled a long breakaway.
On the second climb, Pogacar attacked and left his rivals behind.
Jonas Vingegaard a Dane who rides for Jumbo and Spaniard Mikel Landa of Bahrain stayed with Pogacar longest but were dropped some four kilometres from the top.
"I had good legs," said Pogacar at the finish. "We decided to go for it. I went at my best pace to the top. I tried to get warm."
"With the cold, I was a little bit dizzy at the top, it's pretty hard to run in the cold. I don't like it after the heat of the UAE Tour," he added.
Pogacar increased his lead on a tricky, snow-lined descent where others struggled.
Richie Porte, an Australian veteran with Ineos, missed a corner while Enric Mas, a Spaniard with Movistar, crashed.
Vingegaard complained at the finish that there was gravel on the road left behind by melting snow.
Pogacar finished one minute and three seconds ahead of Vingegaard and Landa.
Porte was another 31 seconds back in fourth.
All three moved up the standings. Vingegaard, who finished second to Pogacar in last year's Tour de France, occupies the same position at 1min 52sec. Landa climbed to third and Porte to fourth.
Pogacar thanked his team-mates.
"When the guys are pulling all day into the headwind for 200km, to take the stage win on such an important day is a good feeling," he said
The race ends Sunday with a mostly flat 159km circuit that starts and ends in Adriatic port San Benedetto Del Tronto.
Pogacar looks assured of retaining the title and continuing a dominant start to the season.
"We need to keep calm one more stage," Pogacar said.
Pogacar said he intends to repay the debt by working for his team's German sprinter Pascal Ackermann "if he has recovered from these days" in the mountains.
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