Tadej Pogacar soloed to his third stage victory when he took stage 20 of the Vuelta a España in Plataforma De Gredos today.
The 20-year-old rider, who also won stages nine and 13, broke away from the peloton on the final categorised climb of the day (the Puerto de Pena Negra) and went full gas to the finish line alone.
Pogacar said his legs were good but that he struggled mentally during the first part of the stage.
“I then saw that everybody else was uncomfortable in the cold and rain and I felt good on the last long climb.”
He made his attack after he had seen Miguel Angel Lopez make a big effort earlier on and, according to him, he chose the right moment to go clear.
While not only winning the stage, the UAE Team Emirates rider also managed to make up time in the overall standings and almost pushed world champion Alejandro Valverde into third.
But with Spain’s Valverde finishing with Rafal Majka and Hermann Pernsteiner, only a minute and 30 seconds later, Pogacar had to settle for the final spot on the podium.
Overall race leader Primoz Roglic finished another minute behind to retain the red jersey.
The Jumbo-Visma rider is set to be the first Slovenian Grand Tour winner when the final stage concludes in Madrid tomorrow.
Colombians Nairo Quintana and Lopez crossed the finish line a further 20 to 25 seconds behind and dropped to fourth and fifth in the standings.
Despite many attacks from Lopez, the Astana Pro climber just could not match Pogacar’s efforts today and had to hand the white jersey to the young Slovenian legend, who was until now the only rider to have won three stages in a Grand Tour before celebrating his 21st birthday.
“It’s really incredible,” Pogacar said. “I will need a few days to understand what I did.”
More results can be viewed below.
Stage 20 results
1. Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 5:16:40
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team +0:01:32
3. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
4. Hermann Pernsteiner (Aut) Bahrain-Merida
5. Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma +0:01:41
6. Sergio Andres Higuita Garcia (Col) EF Education First +0:01:49
7. Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-Merida
8. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team +0:01:56
9. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Mitchelton-Scott +0:01:59
10. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb
90. Willie Smit (RSA) Katusha-Alpecin +0:34:40
99. Louis Meintjes (RSA) Dimension Data +0:36:01
121. Nicholas Dlamini (RSA) Dimension Data +0:38:44
139. Jaco Venter (RSA) Dimension Data
1. Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma 80:18:54
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team +0:02:33
3. Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates +0:02:55
4. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team +0:03:46
5. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team +0:04:48
6. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe +0:07:33
7. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb +0:10:04
8. Carl Fredrik Hagen (Nor) Lotto Soudal +0:12:54
9. Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team +0:22:27
10. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Mitchelton-Scott +0:22:34
51. Louis Meintjes (RSA) Dimension Datat +2:33:02
107. Nicholas Dlanini (RSA) Dimension Data +4:05:44
118. Willie Smit (RSA) Katusha-Alpecin +4:23:33
130. Jaco Venter (RSA) Dimension Data +4:33:59