Tadej Pogacar won his fifth stage victory in the 2024 Tour of Italy on Tuesday by winning in the rain in San Cristina Val Gardena with 16 seconds ahead of the Italian Giulio Pellizzari and the Colombian Daniel Martinez. The inaccessible Slovenian went on the attack shortly before the last kilometer of the final climb of this stage, shortened due to weather conditions, to further increase his lead at the top of the general classification.

As he crossed the line, Pogacar, in short sleeves, counted his victories with his fingers before raising his right arm, showing his full hand. He then took off his pink jersey which he gave, like a footballer at the end of a match, to Pellizzari, whom he took back last after his acceleration 1.3 km from the goal.

After this new victory, the UAE leader now has a lead of more than seven minutes over Daniel Martinez, his new runner-up. The Briton Geraint Thomas was the big loser of the day by crashing in the last wall. Julian Alaphilippe, escaped for the sixth time in this Giro, led the race for a long time before being caught on the final climb.

This 16th stage was shortened from 206 to 118 km after the removal of the first pass where it was snowing. The start was postponed by three hours and moved to the valley after a standoff between the runners, who threatened a strike if the route was not modified, and the organizers, initially determined to keep the same layout. The runners finally reached by car a new starting point, in Lasa, where they got on their bikes in the open countryside in front of a gas station to head towards Santa Cristina Val Gardena, in the cold and in the pouring rain. And the race led to a sort of hill climb that Pogacar loves, who, what’s more, loves winter conditions.

The Movistar team then gave the Slovenian a big helping hand by riding, to the great astonishment of the peloton, behind the breakaway led by an exhilarated Julian Alaphilippe. The Frenchman, who left once again with his new friend Mirko Maestri who had already accompanied him during his stage victory on Thursday, only surrendered two kilometers from the finish, at the foot of the terrible final wall. , after a final stint for his young compatriot Ewen Costiou. “He didn’t have to do that, he’s a huge champion,” commented Costiou, 21, ultimately 9th in a “Dantesque day”, before getting on the bus of his Arkéa-B team

“We wanted to give the breakaway a chance but Movistar controlled the gap. In the last two kilometers, Rafal (Majka, his teammate) got fed up and we started to press the pedals,” explained Pogacar who placed his attack, without even getting up from his seal, at 1.3 km of the goal.

He successively took over Christian Scaroni, Ewen Costiou and, lastly, Giulio Pellizzari. “I actually thought that Pellizzari was going to win but hey, he was right in front of me”, underlined, almost in an apologetic tone, the Slovenian ogre who finally swallowed the young Italian hope. To comfort him, he took off and offered, like a footballer, his pink jersey and glasses to Pellizzari, second just ahead of Martinez. On Wednesday, a new mountain stage is on the program with five climbs over 160 km, including Passo Sella (2,244 m). Here too the weather will once again need to be monitored closely.