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“In the end, Enric was much, much better in the final climb. I must admit that he was better,” Pogačar told the press atop the San Luca climb.
Mas scored what Movistar hailed “the greatest victory of his pro career” Saturday when he uncorked a stinging two-kilometer attack that Pogačar could only watch from afar.
Also read: Mas tops Pogačar in Emilia summit
It was so good even Mas seemed amazed.
“Everyone knows who Tadej Pogačar is, it gives me a lot of satisfaction to attack for victory against him,” the Spaniard said at the finish.
Pogačar on Lombardia defense: ‘I’m very happy with my shape’
Pogačar rides through the Italian classics en route to a season-closing title defense at Il Lombardia next weekend.
Despite being left 11 seconds back in second on the San Luca hilltop, Pogačar is right where he wants to be ahead of the “Race of the Falling Leaves” this coming Saturday.
“It was a great race and nice finish, I’m happy with the shape,” he said. “Compared to at this race last year, the shape is much better. I think I improved in this race and I’m looking forward to Wednesday [when he starts Tand Saturday.”
Also read: Pogačar looking to end on a high in Italy
This year pulled a pinky from Pogačar’s Mercxian grip on pro racing.
Family priorities yanked the handbrake on his Liège-Bastogne-Liège defense in the spring and his season goal was usurped by Jonas Vingegaard at the Tour de France.
The Slovenian bounded back from Tour defeat with victory at the GP Montréal but saw his world title hopes undone amid the communication kerfuffle that confused the Wollongong race.
The “Tour of Lombardy” offers Pogačar one last opportunity for a marquee victory in 2022.
“I won Lombardia last year, but it was a different course,” he said. “This year we go with the same mentality for the final race of the season.”
Mas: We know Lombardia is very good for Valverde
Il Lombardia next weekend makes for a SuperBowl of puncheurs and grand tour stars.
Pogačar, Mas, Vingegaard, Alejandro Valverde and Julian Alaphilippe will line up as favorites when the Lombardy monument rolls out of Bergamo for a route reversed from last year.
Mas won’t be getting carried away after scoring his first one-day win at the Giro dell’Emilia.
Movistar “Godfather” Valverde closes a two-decade career at Il Lombardia and is looking to finish with a flourish by going one better than his three second-place finishes at the race.
“Lombardia is 60 km longer, and we know that Alejandro, that type of classic is very good for him,” Mas said.
“Today was today; we have been able to achieve victory, now comes Tre Valli and other classics, where we hope to be able to fight as well, and Lombardia, which will be the great goal of this end of the season.”