By Sam Millne
Eddie Merckx, arguably the greatest road cyclist of all time, has compared two-time Tour de France winner Tadej Pogačar to himself after the Slovenian soloed to victory at Strade Bianche.
Pogačar showed his credentials for the coming season with a fantastic solo victory at Strade Bianche on Saturday.
Following the race, Merckx told La Gazzetta dello Sport: “It’s becoming difficult to find the word to describe what this young guy does. It’s spectacular and formidable. Pogačar is a Campionissimo.”
The Slovenian, who became the first ever Tour de France champion to win the Tuscan one-day classic, had to overcome strong winds on the day.
The resultant dust that scuppered the peloton’s sight caused a huge crash which claimed high profile victims such as Tiesj Benoot and Julian Alaphilippe, who flew over his handlebars in the melee.
Pogačar overcame that though and once the break was caught, the UAE Team Emirates leader surged ahead of the pack to force a gap and with 42km still to race, he held a lead of over a minute.
Against the odds, the Slovenian then showed his time trialling prowess to hold off Kasper Asgreen and Alejandro Valverde on the gravel roads of North-western Italy to win by 37 seconds ahead of the Spaniard who was racing his last Strade Bianche before retiring at the end of this season.
Elsewhere on the World Tour this week, Pogačar’s compatriot Primož Roglič will be vying for the win at the Paris-Nice stage win whilst Pogačar will be starring at Tirreno-Adriatico alongside Belgian youngster Remco Evenepoel who will hope to launch a breakthrough 2022 after injury hit in the early stages of last year.