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Tadej Pogačar wins Tre Valli Varesine in thrilling finale

The Slovenian star fended off Sergio Higuita and Alejandro Valverde to win just days before Il Lombardia.

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Tadej Pogačar won the 101st edition of the Italian one-day classic Tre Valli Varesine in a thrilling finale Tuesday.

The UAE Team Emirates captain surged just at the right time to fend off an elite field that included the likes of Alejandro Valverde and Vincenzo Nibali to win the mid-week classic.

“I am very happy for the victory. It was a very fast race, the team worked well to keep the group together in the final, especially Diego Ulissi was exceptional,” Pogačar said.

“The sprint was the best option for me in the final stages of the race, everything went perfectly,” he said. “It is a good performance ahead of Il Lombardia. It will be more difficult than last year, but we will try as always to give our best.”

Sergio Higuita (Bora-Hansgrohe) came through second, with Movistar’s Valverde taking third in the penultimate race of his long career.

“Now we have Lombardia on Saturday. If everything goes well then I will be one of the favorites,” Valverde said. “Of course, that depends on the race and how I’m feeling, but right now I feel like I can try to win the race. And I like the route this year before than the others.

“The team did a great job today. We took control of the race right from the start, along with UAE,” Valverde said. “Later I told Enric [Mas] to try his chances as well, and in the end we came in for a sprint. Enric and Einer [Rubio] did great work in the end, and there’s nothing left but to congratulate Pogačar, who was faster than me.”

Also read: Mas tops Pogačar in Emilia summit

The victory bodes well for a title defense for the Slovenian in this weekend’s Il Lombardia.

Pogačar has been on a tear since returning from the Tour de France, with a win at GP de Montréal and second in Giro dell’Emilia last week.

A lead group of contenders came into the final circuit with everything in play. UAE softened things up by sending Diego Ulissi clear, forcing Movistar and others to chase. Nibali also gave it a run before Pogačar pounced to claim his 45th career win.