Pogacar salutes 'almost perfect first week' in Giro

cycling13 May 2024 16:49| © AFP
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Tadej Pogacar © Getty Images

Tadej Pogacar said his first week of the Giro d'Italia was "almost perfect" after he won three stages to build up a lead of nearly three minutes going into Monday's rest day.

The two-time Tour de France champion is riding in the Giro for the first time and is aiming to become the first winner of both the Giro and the Tour in a single season since Marco Pantani in 1998.

"It was an almost perfect first week, I give 10 out of 10 to the team which did a great job," Pogacar told a video news conference.

"I'm happy to have a nice lead. Looking at the Tour de France, this can allow me to adopt a more defensive strategy. I'm going to use the team as much as possible to reach the finish line" in Rome on May 26 in the race leader's pink jersey, he added.

After nine of 21 stages, Pogacar leads Colombia's Dani Martinez by two minutes and 40 seconds, while Geraint Thomas – the 2018 Tour champion – is third at 2:58.

"It's a good thing to have this advantage, but we're preparing for a second week with attacks from our rivals, in particular the Ineos team with (Thymen) Arensman and Thomas," he said.

Pogacar believes Tuesday's 10th stage from Pompei and stage 15, which finishes at high altitude in Livigno, could provide decisive moments during the second week.

The Slovenian, who came third on his only Vuelta a Espana appearance in 2019, said he was enjoying his first experience of the Giro.

"There are differences between the three Grand Tours, they all have their own history, but I have a liking for the Giro," he said.

"It's quite well organised, we're lucky with the weather, the stages aren't too long and it's less stressful than the Tour de France."

Of Pogacar's three stage wins so far in Italy, he said his victory in the 40-kilometre time trial on stage seven – when he beat Italian specialist Filippo Ganna – was his best.