Volta a Catalunya: Tadej Pogacar wins as Mads Pedersen takes Gent-Wevelgem

Tadej Pogacar celebrates victory on the podium
Tadej Pogacar (centre) won the Tour de France in 2020 and 2021

Tadej Pogacar completed a dominant overall victory at the Volta a Catalunya by winning the final seventh stage, while Mads Pedersen outsprinted Mathieu van der Poel to triumph at the one-day classic Gent-Wevelgem.

Slovenia's Pogacar, 25, sealed a fourth stage win of the week in a sprint finish in Barcelona to beat Mikel Landa in the general classification by three minutes and 41 seconds.

Denmark's Pedersen, 28, outlasted reigning world champion Van der Poel in a two-man showdown to win in Belgium.

Pedersen, a former world champion who also won the same event in 2020, held off Van der Poel in the closing metres after he and the Dutchman broke clear with more than 30km remaining.

"I had to believe in my sprint because we couldn't start to attack each other, the bunch would pick us up. With the shape he showed lately, it was hard to believe," said Pedersen.

The women's Gent-Wevelgem race was won by Dutch 25-year-old Lorena Wiebes, who beat Italy's Elisa Balsamo in a photo finish after a dramatic sprint to the line.

'I'm on a good path' - Pogacar displaying ominous form

Two-time Tour de France winner Pogacar had all but secured the title in Spain following a solo 30km attack which brought victory on the race's Queen stage on Saturday and extended the UAE Team Emirates rider's healthy advantage.

But, determined to celebrate a successful week with yet another stage win, no rivals were able to deny him at the end of a hilly 145km route.

Pogacar held up four fingers in recognition of his perfect week as he crossed the line, ahead of Frenchman Dorian Godon who finished second and compatriot Guillaume Martin in third.

In the overall standings Egan Bernal came third behind Spain's Landa and, while the Colombian finished more than five minutes behind Pogacar, it marked a significant milestone for the 2019 Tour de France champion.

It meant Bernal, of Ineos Grenadiers, returned to the podium of a World Tour race for the first time since a life-threatening crash more than two years ago.

Pogacar's victory came three weeks after he executed a stunning solo ride to win the Strade Bianche in Tuscany, while he also finished third at Milan-San Remo - the first of cycling's annual five Monument races.

He will aim to reclaim the Tour de France this year after losing out to Jonas Vingegaard last year as part of a Grand Tour double alongside the Giro d'Italia, which takes place in May.

"To start the season like this is really fantastic," Pogacar said.

"This victory gives me a lot of confidence and I can see I'm in good shape.

"I'm really on a good path for the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France."