Pogacar edges Roglic to win stage 3 of Itzulia

Tadej Pogacar came out on top again after another heavyweight brawl with fellow Slovenian Primoz Roglic on Wednesday in the Tour of the Basque Country.

The ride to Ermualde finished with three sharp climbs in the final 20 kilometres. On the last one, Pogacar took the lead and was quickly joined by Roglic. The two Slovenians quickly dropped the rest of the star-studded leading group.

It was a renewal of the rivalry which went to the penultimate day of last year’s Tour de France, when Pogacar overtook his countryman on the penultimate stage. But when they started looking at each other rather than working together, some of the chasers briefly caught up.

After cresting the final climb, Pogacar attacked again. Only Roglic could go with him. But he could not stay with Pogacar as they sprinted for the line.

Once again, Pogacar threw the final blow, turning to look Roglic in the face before punching the air as he crossed the line.

“In the morning we had gone by car to see the finish and the team manager Matxin had explained the route to me well, so I was aware of the toughness of the climb and I knew that it would be crucial to be in first position on the final crest to launch well into the final metres downhill towards the finish,” said Pogacar.

Roglic retained the overall lead but, with time bonuses, Pogacar cut the gap to 20 seconds and his American UAE team-mate Brandon McNulty is third a further 10 seconds back. Yates is fourth at 39 seconds.

“There are still three days of racing, all quite hard,” added Pogacar. “I’m pretty optimistic because the condition is good and the team is racing very well together.”

Thursday’s stage four runs from Vitoria to Hondarribia, over 189 kilometres.

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