Dubai, United Arab Emirates - September 02, 2019: 20-year-old Tadej Pogacar put in the ride of his life on stage 9 at the Vuelta a Espana today, to take the win for UAE Team Emirates in his first ever Grand Tour, during his first ever season on the World Tour.
Despite being the youngest rider in the race, Pogacar was able to outwit and outclimb some of the most experienced and decorated professional cyclists in the world, including World Champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) who came 4th, race favourite Primoz Roglic (Jumbo Visma) who finished 3rd and the current Green Jersey, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) who finished 2nd.
Pogacar’s explosive attack in the final part of the race helped him jump up the GC standings to 5th place where he now sits just 1:42” behind Quintana who leads in the overall classification. The moment also marked the sixth Grand Tour stage victory for UAE Team Emirates in just three years – two of which have now been claimed at La Vuelta - making this an historic day for the Emirati formation.
Today’s stage was billed as one of the toughest of the tour; a short and punchy 94.4km route from Andorra la Vella to Cortals d’Encamp. However, what the route lacked in distance, it made up for in vertical meters- featuring no less than five categorized climbs. It was on the fifth and final climb to the summit finish that the fireworks began. Pogacar was tucked in with a select group of GC favourites as they paced back the breakaway riders on a mountain with gradients that touched 12%. With 20kms to the weather came in, bringing with it rain and hail of biblical proportions.
Despite the conditions, the Slovenian youngster continued to grind up the ramps, surrounded by cycling royalty. Then with 3kms to go, as the front group began to splinter, Pogacar opened up his throttle and rode the Movistar duo of Nairo Quintana and Marc Soler off his wheel, soloing to victory on one of the most punishing climbs in this year’s Vuelta.
On winning the stage, Pogacar commented: “It has been an incredible stage; it was very demanding from the start. Yesterday, when I saw the weather forecast for today, and I read that it would be rainy, I was actually happy because I knew I had it in me to do something special. I gave it everything on the gravel sector, and even after that effort I felt strong right up until the finish line. I know that I beat some of the best riders, but today’s stage wasn’t very straightforward. We had to contend with gravel and also a hailstorm, so it’s understandable that some riders would have had difficulties.”
Tomorrow, Pogacar and the rest of UAE Team Emirates, will get a well-deserved rest day as they recharge their batteries ahead of stage 10- where a 36.2km Individual Time Trial from Jurancon to Pau awaits.
Stage 9 Results:
1. Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 2:58:09
2. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar +0:23
3. Primoz Roglic (Slo) Jumbo Visma +0:48
GC Standings after Stage 9:
1. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar 35:18:18
2. Primoz Roglic (Slo) Jumbo Visma + 0:06”
3. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team +0:17”
5. Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates +1:42”