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    Thursday, July 18, 2024

    Pogacar wins the Giro d'Italia by a big margin and will now aim for a 3rd Tour de France title

    Tour of Italy winner Slovenia's Tadej Pogacar holds the trophy during the podium ceremony at the end of the 21st and last stage of the Giro D'Italia, cycling race, in Rome, Sunday, May 26, 2024. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

    Rome — Tadej Pogacar won the Giro d’Italia on Sunday with the race’s biggest margin of victory in nearly six decades — earning a third Grand Tour trophy to go with his two Tour de France titles.

    Pogacar, riding a pink bike to go with his pink jersey, shorts and helmet, crossed safely in the main pack to conclude the mostly ceremonial final stage of the three-week race in Rome, ending with an advantage of 9 minutes, 56 seconds over runner-up Daniel Martinez.

    Geraint Thomas finished third overall, 10:24 behind.

    The last time there was a bigger margin of victory in the Giro came in 1965, when Vittorio Adorni won by 11:26.

    Pogacar, a Slovenian with UAE Team Emirates, also won six stages in the race, the most since Eddy Merckx also won six in 1973.

    “Winning any bike race is important but winning the Giro, especially like this, is really incredible,” Pogacar said.

    Now Pogacar will attempt to rest and recover in time to make an attempt at winning his third Tour title, with cycling’s biggest race starting on June 29 with four stages in Italy.

    Pogacar will be attempting to become the first rider to win the Giro and the Tour in the same year since Marco Pantani in 1998.

    “This was the big goal for the first part of the season. Now finally I’ll have a bit of rest before the second part, which could be the more important part,” Pogacar said. “We’ll see.”

    Belgian rider Tim Merlier won the final stage in a sprint ahead of Jonathan Milan by the Colosseum. It was Merlier's fourth career win at the Giro and third this year.

    Milan, the Italian sprinter who also won three stages in the race, had a mechanical issue and needed to change his bike at the start of the last lap. He then managed to catch up with the main pack and almost grabbed another victory.

    The 125-kilometer (78-mile) mostly flat final stage finished with a circuit through the center of the capital that was completed eight times, taking riders past the Baths of Caracalla, the Roman Forum, the Tiber River and the Circus Maximus before the finish on cobblestones near the Arch of Constantine.

    Pogacar entered the Giro for the first time this year and made an immediate impact. He finished second in the opening stage in Turin and gained time on almost all of his direct rivals. Then he won the second stage, grabbed the leader’s pink jersey and kept on increasing his advantage day after day.

    Pogacar won the Tour in 2020 and 2021 and then finished second behind Jonas Vingegaard in 2022 and 2023.

    Vingegaard is hoping to defend his Tour title despite a crash in April that left him with several broken ribs and a collapsed lung.

    Slovenia's Tadej Pogacar, wearing the pink jersey overall leader, crosses the finish line of the 21st and last stage of the Giro D'Italia, tour of Italy cycling race, in Rome, Sunday, May 26, 2024. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
    Cyclists are cheered by fans as they ride past the ancient Colosseum during the final stage of the Giro d’Italia cycling race in Rome, Sunday, May 26, 2024. (Gian Mattia D'Alberto/LaPresse via AP)
    Cyclists, including the pink jersey overall leader Slovenia's Tadej Pogacar, ride past the ancient Colosseum during the final stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race in Rome, Sunday, May 26, 2024. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
    From left, second classified Colombia's Daniel Felipe Martinez, first classified Slovenia's Tadej Pogacar and third classified Britain's Geraint Thomas celebrate during the podium ceremony at the end of the 21st and last stage of the Giro D'Italia, tour of Italy cycling race, in Rome, Sunday, May 26, 2024. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

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