Pogacar recovers to earn first Giro stage win

Tadej Pogacar crosses the finish line to win stage two of the 2024 Giro d'Italia
Tadej Pogacar now has recorded stage wins at all three Grand Tours [Reuters]

Tadej Pogacar recovered from a mechanical issue at the bottom of the final climb to earn his first stage win at the Giro d'Italia.

The Giro favourite was third in Saturday's opening stage and suffered a puncture in Sunday's 161km mountain stage, about 11km from the summit finish at Santuario di Oropa.

The two-time Tour de France winner hit the tarmac right in front of his team car, but was unhurt and was immediately helped onto a new bike.

The Slovenian, 25, then rode to victory, 27 seconds ahead of Daniel Martinez and Great Britain's Geraint Thomas, to take the overall lead from Jhonatan Narvaez.

“I was quite calm," said Pogacar. "I was confused a little, then I crashed, but it was nothing serious. The team was super good today.

"They brought me back to the front, then we set a pace that we liked and it was perfect. Now I can relax a little bit for the next few days and we can stay safe in the sprints."

Pogacar is aiming to complete a rare double of winning the Giro and Tour de France in the same year - a feat that has not been achieved since Marco Pantani in 1998.

And the UAE Team Emirates rider emulated the late Italian great, who rode to a stage victory in 1999 after a chain problem at the bottom of the same climb.

Pogacar soon rejoined the peloton and, on a hill covered in tributes to Pantani, his team helped him get back into contention.

Pogacar rode clear four kilometres from the finish and now has stage wins at all three Grand Tours.

Australia's Ben O'Connor and Thomas were unable to keep up the chase, and although O'Connor was dropped, Wales' Thomas moved up nine spots to second in the general classification.

The Ineos Grenadiers rider, 37, said: "I was hoping to follow but if I kept going like that I would have completely blown up.

"I didn’t feel quite as good as yesterday, but it’s OK for the second day. Hopefully I can continue to ride into the race and it's all to play for, but obviously Tadej is, well, he's Tadej."

Stage two result

1. Tadej Pogacar (Slo/UAE Team Emirates) 3hrs 54mins 20secs

2. Daniel Martinez (Col/Bora-hansgrohe) +27secs

3. Geraint Thomas (GB/Ineos Grenadiers) same time

4. Lorenzo Fortunato (Ita/Astana-Qazaqstan) same time

5. Florian Lipowitz (Ger/Bora-hansgrohe) same time

General classification

1. Tadej Pogacar (Slo/UAE Team Emirates) 7hrs 8mins 29secs

2. Geraint Thomas (GB/Ineos Grenadiers) +45secs

3. Daniel Martinez (Col/Bora-hansgrohe) same time

4. Cian Uijtdebroeks (Bel/Team Visma-Lease a Bike) +54secs

5. Einer Rubio (Col/Movistar) same time