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Pogačar and Kopecky: do it again, do it better!


A deja-vù? Not at all, this is all true! Today history has repeated itself and blessed us with a more mature, more jaw-dropping version of what we had already seen 2 years ago. Back in 2022, Tadej Pogačar won his first Strade Bianche after a solo 50-kilometre ride, while Lotte Kopecky took the women’s race after outsprinting Annemiek Van Vleuten in a beautiful head-to-head battle. Just a few hours ago, Tadej Pogačar won his second Strade Bianche with a solo ride of 80 km, while Lotte Kopecky raised her arms to the sky in Piazza del Campo after beating Elisa Longo Borghini in another great head-to-head.

Tadej started his campaign as he ended last season, winning! He had perhaps forgotten that the route had undergone some changes this year, becoming longer and tougher, with four gravel sectors and 30 km added to the original racecourse. Thus, he basically attacked at the same point where he did two years ago, on the never disappointing Monte Sante Marie section, only this time it was 80 km to the finish line and not 50. No big deal, because within 10 km the Slovenian had already built a 2-minute gap on a chasing pack featuring champions such as Tom Pidcock, Matej Mohorič, Sepp Kuss and Christophe Laporte, to name but a few. With 60 km to go, this year’s Strade Bianche was over as a contest. But that’s what Pogačar is like, so strong, so confident, so over the top, that this morning he went as far as proclaiming: “today I will attack on Monte Sante Marie”. Perhaps not everyone listened to him, or perhaps they didn’t believe him, but he definitely kept his word.

On top of all this, it is worth mentioning that this was the first race of his season, a season in which Pogačar has high ambitions as he looks to take on both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France. His victory today came with the largest gap between first and second, which allowed him to enjoy every bit of the last 10 km, including the run up to Siena, winking at the camera, starting to cheer at 3 km to go and high-fiving the fans. A privilege that, in a race like this, few (perhaps none?) have ever had. Let’s face it, this guy is nothing short of an alien!

To make it all the more special, a rainbow could also be glimpsed in the distance during the men’s race. Because of rain mixed with sunshine? Not today! Today, that rainbow was Lotte Kopecky’s world champion jersey, shining in Piazza del Campo as she took her second success at the Strade Bianche. “I was not on my best day,” she stated after the finish. It is hard to imagine what she would have done if she had been… Last year she let her second success slip away by an inch, this time she did nothing wrong.

Siena always rewards the strongest. And today there was little doubt as to who they were.

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