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Defending the Pogačar Tour title is on track with Tirreno winning

SAN BENEDETTO DEL TRONTO, Italy (AP) – Two-stage race. Two total victories.

Tadej Pogačar is preparing well to defend his Tour de France title.

The Slovene won the Tirreno-Adriatic of the Week race ahead of Tuesday’s stellar field, raising his title to the UAE tour last month.

“What a fantastic start to the season,” said Pogasar. “This is one of the biggest one-week races.”

After finishing fourth in the final time trial, Pogačar finished 1 minute, 3 seconds ahead of Wout van Aert in a sea-to-sea race.

Mikel Landa finished third overall, 3:57 behind. The winner of the 2019 tour, Egan Bernal, finishes fourth, more than 4 minutes behind Pogačar.

The 22-year-old Pogačar won a round in both the United Arab Emirates and Tyreno, crossing the “queen”‘s foot on Saturday, which ended in a grueling ascent to the Prati di Tivo.

Pogačar also won time against all its rivals in the fifth round on Sunday, which was joined by a series of short ascents or “walls” when Mathieu van der Poel, who was about to take the reins, came close.

“5th stage in cold, wet weather. “This is a stage I will never forget,” said Pogasar, who plays for the UAE team.

Van Aert of Jumbo-Visma won the second round of the tournament.

At 11:06 a.m., Van Aert traveled the entire 10.1-kilometer (6.3-mile) route from San Benedetto del Tronto on the Adriatic coast. European champion Stefan Kyung finished second, six seconds behind, and world champion Filippo Ganna was third, 11 seconds behind, finishing his winning streak in time trials with eight.

“Every year I get a little better in this category,” said van Aert. “For the first time I was aiming for GC in the stage race, I was only beaten by the winner of the Tour de France. I will try more in the future, but now I have in mind the classics, starting with Milano-Sanremo. ”

Pogačar lost one second to Ganna in the round.

Next Saturday in the world tour calendar is the Milan-San Remo classic, although Pogačar is not taking part in the race. Next, he will take part in a tour of the Basque Country in April, followed by one-day races on Flèche Wallonne ie Liege-Bastogne-Liège.

“But first,” he said, “I want to relax a little.”

The talented van Aert also won the sprint in the opening round. He will try to defend his Milan-San Remo title.

“I felt very good this week, I saw last year that I really improved my horse after that,” said the Belgian cyclist. “I have to recover as much as possible now.

“But I saw a lot of strong riders this week,” added Van Aert, “so I’m definitely not the only favorite.”

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