At this year’s Tour de France, Pogačar aimed for the yellow jersey for the overall winner for the third time in a row, but his dream was literally shattered by Jonas Vingegaard and his teammates from the Jumbo-Visma team, led by Van Aert. The Slovenian phenom then decided to skip the Vuelta and set his sights on success at the World Championships in September.
And after the August break and participation in the race in Brittany, he shone in full splendor in Montreal. The 221 km race began to be decided eleven kilometers before the finish line, when Adam Yates ordered an attack and a stellar group of escapees with Pogačar, Van Aert, David Gaudu and Andrea Bagioli became independent at the head.
In the kilometer-long finish line, the group began to tactic, about three hundred meters before the tape, Gaudu decided to start, and Pogačar showed the best reaction, who eventually left Van Aert and Bagioli behind. After the finish, the twenty-three-year-old Slovene fell into ecstatic euphoria from only his fourth triumph in a one-day race.
“I can fly to Australia on Monday with a clear head. So far, all indications are that the timing of the form is working out well. Of course I have to have my day, the championship race will have a different profile and be longer. Nothing easy awaits me,” Pogačar described after a successful day in Canada.
Van Aert, considered by many to be currently the best and most versatile cyclist on the planet, accepted the defeat with humility. “I lost to one of the biggest superstars of contemporary cycling,” he said at the finish line. “There’s no shame in finishing second. Of course, it would be nice to celebrate the victory, but I still lacked a piece,” added the main favorite of Sunday’s event, where the competitors were waiting even challenging climbs, including an uphill finish line.
Although Pogačar does not have a bunch of triumphs in one-off races in his collection, he has already managed to dominate the Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Giro di Lombardia monuments. And every win over specialists like Van Aert is therefore properly valued. “Wout won the green jersey at the Tour, won sprints during the season. I planned to hang onto his bike as much as possible, but he ended up hanging onto me. Unbelievable,” he smiled at the finish line.
The mass start race at the Road Cycling World Championships in Wollongong, Australia is on September 25. “It will not be easy. But on Sunday I was able to beat the best in the world…,” added Pogačar, who after the championship in the opposite leg will also try to defend his triumph in Lombardy on October 8.