The penultimate stage of the Giro d’Italia saw Tadej Pogacar deliver a decisive solo victory over the daunting double ascent of Monte Grappa. The Slovenian rider’s triumph on this rain-soaked 184 km route from Alpago to Bassano del Grappa effectively sealed his maglia rosa.

The day began with a flurry of attacks, but it was a duo consisting of Davide Ballerini and Lorenzo Girmani that initially managed to distance themselves from the peloton. They were soon joined by a nine-man chase group, forming a breakaway of eleven riders that included Andrea Pietrobon, Pelayo Sánchez, Nicola Conci, Stage 19 winner Andrea Vendrame, Ed Theuns, Alessandro Tonelli, Jimmy Janssens, Rubén Fernández, and Henok Mulubrhan.

As the breakaway gained a lead of four minutes, the main peloton faced its own challenges. Tadej Pogacar, visibly agitated, required a visit to the doctor’s car due to arm pain. However, this did not deter his squad from controlling the pace.

Upon reaching the first ascent of Monte Grappa, the breakaway began to fragment under the pressure of repeated attacks. Giulio Pellizzari bridged from the peloton to join the leading group, taking the summit KOM points. Pellizzari and Sánchez briefly broke free on the descent but were soon joined by Filippo Fiorelli.

The second ascent of Monte Grappa saw the breakaway’s lead shrink as Pogacar’s team increased the tempo. By the climb’s halfway point, Pogacar launched his anticipated attack, 5.4 km from the summit, quickly catching and passing Pellizzari. From there, Pogacar rode solo to victory, extending his lead over the GC contenders.

Behind Pogacar, Geraint Thomas struggled on the lower slopes but showcased his descending skills to rejoin Antonio Tiberi and Dani Martínez. Thomas retained his podium position, finishing the stage alongside his rivals.

Pogacar’s Reflections

Post-stage, Pogacar reflected on the team’s flawless execution. “Rui [Oliveira] and [Sebastian] Molano did a great job until the first climb, then Vegard [Stake Laengen] and Mikkel [Bjerg] set a really good pace on the first part of the climb, which I was really happy with,” Pogacar remarked. “We made a really good pace through the top and downhill we took no risks. Then the uphill we set as we said it in the meeting. It was perfect and I was so happy that I had a good gap on the top and I didn’t need to go full gas on the downhill.”

Pogacar also expressed his excitement about visiting Rome for the first time, saying, “I never been in Rome before, but I’m going to enjoy it for sure.”

Pogacar’s win on Stage 20, coupled with his previous five stage victories, extended his overall lead to nearly ten minutes, a margin not seen in the Giro for over a decade. The final stage in Rome now stands as a ceremonial ride, with Pogacar poised to confirm his triumph in his debut Giro d’Italia.

2024 Giro d’Italia Stage 20 result

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Photo credits: LaPresse