Pogacar wins Giro d'Italia second stage, claims overall lead

Team UAE's Slovenian rider Tadej Pogacar now leads the Giro (Luca Bettini)
Team UAE's Slovenian rider Tadej Pogacar now leads the Giro (Luca Bettini)

Tadej Pogacar won his first ever stage of the Giro d'Italia and took the overall leader's pink jersey in Sunday's summit finish at the Sanctuary of Oropa.

The Slovenian is bidding to become the first man to win the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France double since Marco Pantani in 1998 and attacked on a hill covered in tributes to the late Italian.

Pre-race favourite Pogacar made the key move near the end of the second stage's final punishing climb, skipping clear with his trademark swagger.

The UAE rider bounced back from a crash just as the peloton approached the climb towards Oropa and turned on the afterburners with four kilometres remaining of the 161km stage.

Pogacar has now won a stage in all three of cycling's Grand Tours and is clearly the man to beat as the Giro winds its way to Rome later this month.

"It was always in my mind to have all three stage wins. It is something not many riders have and it's a big thing in cycling so I'm super happy," said Pogacar.

"They called me to the front and we set a pace that we liked so it was perfect."

Monday's third stage gives the riders something of a break with a mostly flat 166km run between Novara and Fossano which looks set up for the sprinters.

"I just wanted the stage win... the dream was to take the pink jersey and now I can relax a bit the next few days and we stay safe in the sprints," added Pogacar.

Pogacar, a two-time Tour de France winner, claimed his eighth win in just 12 days of competitive racing this year and is in ominous form.

He finished 27 seconds ahead of Daniel Martinez and another of his key rivals Geraint Thomas, stripping the pink jersey from Saturday's winner Jhonatan Narvaez.

Thomas, who said after the stage that "Tadej is Tadej" with a shrug of the shoulders, trails Pogacar by 45 seconds in the overall standings.