Pogacar goes solo to take stage win and overall lead at Valenciana

Young Slovenian attacked with five kilometers to go to put himself into overall lead with one stage remaining.

Tadej Pogacar struck out with five kilometers to go on the steep slopes of Sierra de Bernia to take the stage and overall lead at Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana Saturday.

Pogacar started the day on the same time as Jack Haig (Mitchelton-Scott), but the young Slovenian caught out his rival with a fierce acceleration on the final climb to distance the Australian and snatch the leader’s jersey.

The fourth stage of the Spanish race was packed with climbing from the outset, and with the climb to the finish featuring 20 percent ramps and a tough concrete surface, there was sure to be GC fireworks in the finale.

A strong breakaway that included Greg van Avermaet (CCC Team), Pello Bilbao (Bahrain McLaren), and Tim Declercq (Deceuninck-QuickStep) formed early on and lasted until the lower slopes of the summit finish before being caught. They were scooped up by a peloton that had been powered by Mitchelton-Scott, UAE-Team Emirates and Movistar, working for Haig, Pogacar and Alejandro Valverde respectively.

Olympic champion van Avermaet was last man standing from the escape group, however, when Pogacar struck out, he was soon caught and distanced.  21-year-old Pogacar, who finished on the podium at the Vuelta a Espana last year, kicked hard out of the lead pack and quickly built a gap over his rivals, with Haig slow to react.

Wout Poels (Bahrain-McLaren), Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos) were the first to launch out to chase Pogacar before Haig managed to winch himself back into contact with the chasers around a kilometer later.

Pogacar proved uncatchable however, soloing to the line to take his second win of the week having also won stage 2. Poels was the next over the line having come close to making contact with Pogacar in the final kilometer. Geoghegan Hart took third. Haig finished in fifth, six seconds back on the race winner, and so slips to second overall.

The five-stage tour concludes Sunday with a flat 97km stage into Valencia. Haig has six seconds to make up on Pogacar to steal victory, so expect to see aggressive racing from his Mitchelton-Scott team.

Stage 4 results

  1. Tadej Pogačar (UAE- Team Emirates): 4:22:03
  2. Wout Poels (Bahrain McLaren): +00:00:06
  3. Tao Geoghegan Hart (Team Ineos): S.T

GC after stage 4

  1. Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Emirates): 16:38:28
  2. Jack Haig (Mitchelton Scott): +00:06
  3. Tao Geoghegan Hart (Team Ineos): S.T