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Pogacar soars to landmark Giro win on snow-capped peak

Tadej Pogacar produced a towering performance on Sunday as he won stage 15 of the Giro d’Italia and extended his lead in the overall standings by almost three minutes.

Surrounded by boisterous roadside fans at altitude on the road to the Mottolino ski resort, the Team UAE leader took his fourth stage victory to go around 6min 41sec clear with six stages remaining.

“I wouldn’t say it was the greatest win of my career, but that was a very nice one,” said the Slovenian wrapped in a coat and woolly hat after the race.

“It was hard all day everyone suffered and when I went, I’m very happy with the last 15km,” he said after demonstrating his superiority in the finale.

Having extended his lead Saturday on a time-trial, this fresh triumph elevates him to overwhelming favourite after a day on which the men closest to him in the rankings had no answers.

On a sunny Sunday, an early escape group took a five minutes lead as Pogacar’s peloton dwindled over a series of climbs.

By the time the escape reached the final mountain, 2014 Giro winner Nairo Quintana was leading alone in a confident manner.

“I was angry with him,” Pogacar joked. “This is a guy who never attacked and I was thinking why is he attacking now,” Pogacar said of veteran Quintana, famous for trailing in second on the Tour de France while never testing winner Chris Froome.

When Pogacar gave chase, he closed fast. The 25-year-old Slovenian whizzed past one after another of the escapees and overtook Quintana two minutes from the summit ski-resort finish line.

Quintana finished second, 30sec adrift. Geraint Thomas and Dani Martinez finished 2min 50sec down. The Welshman is still second overall but at 6min 41sec. Martinez is third at 6min 56sec.

“We just let Pog go, let him do what he’s gotta do,” said a pale Ineos Grenadiers leader Thomas. “I finished with Dani today. Let’s see about next week.”

“In a way it’s cat and mouse with me and Dani  now,” he said of former teammate Martinez, who joined Bora in the close season.

Monday is a rest day.

There are four mountain stages in the final week and two for the sprinters, including the 21st stage from Rome out to a Lido on the coast and back through all the sights of the Italian capital.

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