Pogacar rises in the mountains and takes Tirreno-Adriatico lead
Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar surged through the snows to the lone mountain-top finish in the Tirreno-Adriatico on Saturday to wrest the race lead from Wout Van Aert
The 148 kilometre stage from Terni ended with a ferocious battle between a group of elite riders up the 14.7 climb to Prati di Tivo.
Pogacar, who rides for Team UAE, took over the race lead from Belgian Van Aert of Jumbo Visma, who limited the damage by finishing ninth, 45 seconds back, after a gritty ride.
"Simon was coming close in the end, but I struggled to the finish. I did everything I could. It was a fast climb. It was a super climb."
The long final ascent was marked by a string of attacks including jabs by the two Ineos former Tour de France winners Egan Bernal and Geraint Thomas.
Pogacar caught Welshman Thomas and then, with 5.6km to go, powered away alone.
"When I went on the attack, I tried to get rid of everyone," said Pogacar. "I tried to be alone and go my own tempo."
Yates, of BikeExchange, finally gave chase, but like his brother Adam of Ineos, who finished second to Pogacar in the UAE Tour last month, could not quite match the Slovene.
He slogged up the slope at an unwavering tempo as more natural climbers such as Colombian Bernal, Thomas and French world champion Julian Alaphilippe all cracked.
Bernal and Thomas crossed the line together 58 seconds after Pogacar.
Pogacar took a 35-second lead over Van Aert in the overall standings with Higuita of Education First jumping to third on the same time.
Sunday's 205km stage from Castellalto to Castelfidaro finishes with a dozen short, sharp hills.
The race ends on Tuesday with a 10.1km time trial, and although Pogacar won the Tour de France with a victory in a race against the clock, the short, flat course could favour van Aert.
"Every second is good," said Pogacar. "But tomorrow is a super hard day, also a time trial in the end, I think it's going to be really tight battle for the finish."
VIDEO: 2021 Tirreno-Ariatico Stage 4 Highlights
2021 Tirreno-Ariatico Stage 4 Top 10
1 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 3:51:24
2 Simon Yates (GBr) Team BikeExchange 0:0:06
3 Sergio Higuita Garcia (Col) EF Education-Nippo 0:0:29
4 Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Bahrain Victorious
5 Nairo Quintana (Col) Team Arkea-Samsic 0:0:31
6 João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:0:35
7 Matteo Fabbro (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:0:42
8 Simon Carr (GBr) EF Education-Nippo
9 Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma 0:0:45
10 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana-Premier Tech
2021 Tirreno-Ariatico GC after stage 4
1 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 17:53:21
2 Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma 0:0:35
3 Sergio Higuita Garcia (Col) EF Education-Nippo
4 Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Bahrain Victorious 0:0:38
5 Nairo Quintana (Col) Team Arkea-Samsic 0:0:41
6 João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:0:45
7 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana-Premier Tech 0:0:55
8 Simon Carr (GBr) EF Education-Nippo 0:01:03
9 Matteo Fabbro (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:01:12
10 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:01:25