Ruta del Sol S5: Tadej Pogačar wraps up dominant overall win, Omar Fraile takes final stage victory

Follow all the action in the five-stage Vuelta a Andalucía across southern Spain.

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Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) wrapped up a dominant week at the Ruta del Sol, claiming the overall title by 1:18 over his rivals.

Pogačar won three of the race’s five stages and looked practically unbeatable throughout. Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious) was one of the riders that tried to rein in Pogačar’s dominance and finished second overall with his teammate Santiago Buitrago taking third.

“It was really great. We did a perfect job through the week. I’m super happy with my shape and with the shape of the team,” Pogačar said. “With the result, I’m maybe a little bit surprised, but I knew that my level is good. In this race, I felt really strong, and I hope I can feel as strong in the next races.

Only two other people took stage victories at the event with Pogačar’s teammate Tim Wellens claiming the win on day three. Omar Fraile (Ineos Grenadiers) became the only non-UAE Team Emirates rider to claim a stage win with a big effort on the uphill finale of stage 5.

Fraile made his move going into the final corner and distanced those that tried to follow him to take his first win in over 18 months.

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S4: Pogačar does it again with fourth win of the season

Tadej Pogačar kicked past Enric Mas on the Iznájar hilltop of the Ruta del Sol to score his fourth win of the 2023 season and his sixth victory in his last seven race days.

Pogačar’s victory extends UAE Team Emirates’ stranglehold on Andalucia after the Slovenian and his new teammate Tim Wellens swept all four stages so far.

Mas and Pogačar broke clear in the second-last climb of the day Saturday before going on to duke out the victory on the grinding closing ramp to the line.

Pogačar now carries a 1:14 GC lead over Mikel Landa into the final stage of racing Sunday, a lumpy stage likely to finish in a bunch sprint.

“We worked so hard and I was really happy to take the win because the guys deserve it. The team is perfect but we’re getting tired because everybody tries to attack us,” he said. “The possibilities to win are good but tomorrow is still a really hard day. If it’s like today we need to be prepared from the start and keep focussed.”

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S3: UAE Team Emirates three-peats with Wellens win

Wellens opened his UAE account in Spain.

It was three for three wins for UAE Team Emirates but a first in the team colors for Tim Wellens.

The Belgian rider won stage 3 of the Ruta del Sol, besting the rest on the 161km from Alcalà de Guadaira to Alcalà de los Gazules, which was shortened due to strong winds.

Wellens joined a breakaway of 21 cyclists that built an advantage of 5:30, a gap large enough to allow the attackers to reach the bottom of the final steep hill and battle for the victory. At 1200 meters to go, the Belgian rider sped up and none of the opponents could respond.

Pierre Latour (Total Energies) crossed in the line in second, followed by Samuele Battistella (Astana Qazaqstan Team).

Tadej Pogačar , who won the previous two stages, crossed the finish line leading the peloton. The Slovenian keeps the yellow jersey with 48” on Santiago Buitrago (Barhain-Victorious).

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S2: Tadej Pogačar roars to third straight win on 2023

No gifts. Bernard Hinault would be proud.

Tadej Pogačar roared to his second stage win in a row at the Ruta del Sol, also his third victory in three days of racing so far in 2023.

The stage ended with a short but steep ramp that ended on cobbles. Movistar’s Enric Mas jumped under the red kite, and Pogačar was quick to mark the wheel. He then turned on the turbos and swarmed to victory.

“We didn’t aim for the final, but in the end the race was full-on from the start. Bahrain was attacking full-gas and I had to follow all the attacks. In the end, it was a perfect finish,” Pogačar said.

Mas, who lost time Wednesday after suffering a mechanical late in the stage, crossed the line second at 4 seconds back, with Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain Victorious) taking third.

An early break pulled clear early in the lumpy three-climb stage from Diezma to Alcalá la Real. The GC favorites accelerated on the day’s final climb to bridge out to the remnants of the break to create a nine-rider front group.

Mohorič used his descending skills to try to gap the leaders on the day’s final descent off the Puerto de la Hoya de Charilla with about 20km to go.

The Milano-Sanremo winner was reeled in, but Bahrain Victorious had numbers with four riders in the leading nine.

Pogačar was isolated, but he could handle himself despite the odds. A winner in stage 1, Pogačar had a margin to work with, but didn’t want to get caught out.

“We will try to make a relaxed race, but every team wants to race full-gas. We cannot spend too much energy on the front. We will see how the teams race tomorrow,” Pogačar said. “We will keep in mind to keep the yellow tomorrow.”

The Ruta del Sol continues Friday with the 161km third stage from Alcalá de Guadaira to Alcalá de los Gazules. The stage ends with a short but very steep climb that should eliminate the pure sprinters.

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S1: Tadej Pogačar blows up race with solo attack

Tadej Pogačar uncorked a long-distance attack to win Wednesday’s five-climb stage to open the Ruta del Sol in southern Spain.

A winner Monday in his season debut at Jaén Paraíso Interior, Pogačar roared to his second victory in two days of racing in 2023. The chasers did a good job to limit the losses on the long, wide-open descent to the line.

“Today was about teamwork, we really did a nice job. The guys led me to the final climb at a really high pace, which I really liked. The climb was really steep and that was the decisive moment to attack and I went alone,” Pogačar said. “I would say I’m surprised a little bit. I knew I was good, but it was a bit of a surprise that I win already two races.

“It’s going to be really tricky [to keep the leader’s jersey] because of the tricky stages but we have such a strong team. We will go day by day and try to keep the jersey.”

Pogačar attacked on the day’s main obstacle at the Cat. 1 Despiernacaballos climb (10.6km at 5.8%) with about 13km to go, and Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain Victorious) was the only rider with gas to follow.

Pogačar surged again in 500m and gapped out the Colombian to forge ahead alone.

Spain’s leading stars bravely gave chase, with Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious), Carlos Rodríguez (Ineos Grenadiers), and Enric Mas (Movistar) tapping away in unison to limit the losses.

Landa crossed the line second at 38 seconds back, with Rodríguez third, and Buitrago on his wheel.

Mas dropped out of the lead chasing group with a mechanical that appeared to be a dropped chain. He called back to a team car for support but was left at the side of the road as the chasers rode on.

Pogačar topped out over the climb with a gap of about 40 seconds and dropped toward the finish line alone with 7km to go to the line.

UAE Team Emirates blew up the stage when it took control in the closing 25km. Tim Wellens surged to the front and the peloton melted in his wake.

The front GC group soon dwindled to 20 riders with less than 15km to go. Pogačar jumped, and it was soon in damage control.

The Ruta del Sol continues Thursday with the 156km second stage from Diezma to Alcaléa la Real. The rolling stage features three moderate climbs but a stinging climb to the finish line will create complications for any sprinters who make it that far.

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