Tadej Pogačar was willing to lose Giro d’Italia lead on the gravel ahead of critical TT

Slovenian keeps pink after GC status quo remains on stage 6

Clock16:39, Thursday 9th May 2024
Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) on the gravel stage of the Giro d'Italia

© Getty Images

Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) on the gravel stage of the Giro d'Italia

Stage 6 of the Giro d’Italia from Viareggio to Rapolano Terme was billed as a mini Strade Bianche, and given Tadej Pogačar’s well-known love for the gravel roads of Siena, many expected the Slovenian to go on the attack through the three sectors of white roads and potentially extend his lead in the maglia rosa.

The stage held plenty of action, with almost 100km raced before the winning break formed and several small incidents taking place among the GC contenders, but Pogačar kept his powder dry and stuck to following his UAE Team Emirates squad through each of the gravel sectors rather than inflicting the sort of onslaught that saw him win Strade Bianche with a jaw-dropping 80km solo attack.

At various points on stage 6 the maglia rosa even shifted to the shoulders of Luke Plapp (Jayco-AlUla), who was part of the winning break and moved ahead of Pogačar on GC before eventually seeing his lead tumble in the run-in to the line.

“For us it was perfect if they stayed away, we were always riding a normal pace when it was flat and on the climbs, rolling, we didn’t want to spend too much energy so we were happy with that breakaway – even if Plapp would take the pink jersey it would be fine,” Pogačar said at the finish.

Read more: Giro d'Italia stage 6: Pelayo Sánchez wins epic gravel stage ahead of Alaphilippe and Plapp

Ineos Grenadiers started the stage in second overall with Geraint Thomas 46 seconds down on Pogačar and the British squad took control of the race through each of the gravel sectors, but although they at times isolated the maglia rosa they never really looked to test him. Their position on the front was more to protect Thomas at times and in that regard, the British squad succeeded.

“But Ineos were riding super hard on the gravel sections and also on the last climbs. For me it was okay, a good stage, I’m happy that it’s over. It was enjoyable to ride these gravel roads but I prefer Strade Bianche! It was nice to see all the crowds, I’m just happy that it’s over and it’s one stage ticked off,” Pogačar added.

Stage 7, a 40.6km individual time trial from Foligno to Perugia, will give Pogačar the perfect terrain to extend his lead on GC, and unlike the relatively tame gravel sectors on stage 6, he’ll be able to open the throttle and test his rivals to their limits.

“Tomorrow’s a time trial, let’s go for another good day. Today I had good legs, so let’s see what I can do tomorrow. It’s an interesting parcours, let’s hope for the best. I just want to feel good on the bike if I’m honest – I can push on the road bike, I want this feeling.”

For everything you need to know about the 2024 Giro d'Italia, from the history of the race to this year's route and start list, be sure to check out our dedicated race hub.

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