Tadej Pogačar is aiming to once again come from behind to snatch victory from Primož Roglič after beating his fierce rival to win stage three of the Itzulia Basque Country.
In a thrilling finale, the young UAE-Team Emirates rider just got the better of his older Slovenian compatriot in the closing few hundred metres to take his third stage win of the season.
Large gains in the opening stage’s time trial for Jumbo-Visma’s Roglič means that he still holds a sizeable advantage in the general classification of 20 seconds to Pogačar, four less than before the day’s start, but with three hilly and difficult days to come, Pogačar is in confident mood.
Aware that it was just seven months ago when he spectacularly took the Tour de France title off Roglič, 22-year-old Pogačar said: “I think the race is really wide open.
“Today I felt really good and I am super happy for the win. In the next days we will see how the other teams race but I think it’s really open.
“Four seconds [the time he clawed back today] is not a lot, but the gap is getting smaller.
“I am pretty happy for my form and shape and how things are going.”
Stage four and stage six appear to represent the best chances for Pogačar to overtake Roglič in the final standings, and he hinted that he may go on the attack once more.
“There are three more hard days and tough finishes on each of the three stages,” he added.
“I expect it to be tough. But we are optimistic. I am looking forward to the next days.”
Pogačar had driven the brutally steep final climb of stage three before the day’s racing got underway, a reconnaissance that he believes aided him.
“In the morning we went up in the car so I expected the climb to be like what it was,” he said.
“I knew that at the finish I needed to be at the top before the descent into the finish. We knew what to expect and that was super important.
“It was a super-hard climb and I was putting everything in. I am super happy to win in front of crazy and fantastic fans.”