UAE Team Emirates' rising star Tadej Pogacar takes top spot in the Tour of Valencia
The 21-year-old Slovenian admits he 'did not expect to win' after holding off veteran Valverde to claim Stage 2
UAE Emirates rider Tadej Pogacar took top spot in the Tour of Valencia on Thursday after snatching a tight win on Stage 2.
The 21-year-old rising star, who came third in last year's Vuelta a Espana, saw off the opposition on the final climb towards Cullera to finish just ahead of 39-year-old Movistar old hand Alejandro Valverde and a host of others in four hours, 14 minutes and 21 seconds.
Pogacar also won three stages at the Vuelta, as well as the white jersey for the quickest young rider, and he showed all his ability to hold off 2009 Vuelta winner Valverde.
Belgium's Dylan Teuns finished third, hot on the heels of the top two.
Last year's winner, Ion Izagirre of Astana, finished sixth after a crash that also saw Jumbo-Visma's Tobias Foss suffer a fractured collar bone.
Pogacar leads the general classification with a combined time of eight hours, 22 minutes and nine seconds, with both third-placed Valverde and Teuns in fifth on the same time.
"I actually surprised myself today," Pogacar said. "It was a good stage for me, a good finish, but I did not expect to win, because I never know how my form is after long break."
In the Saudi Tour, meanwhile, UAE Emirates' Rui Costa dropped down to second place in the standings after Phil Bauhaus won Stage 3 and took over the lead.
Costa had won the opening stage and then held on to a wafer-thin lead going into Thursday's 119km run from King Saud University to Al Bujairi.
Bahrain-McLaren rider Bauhaus had been leading out for sprint king Mark Cavendish but when the German hit the front after the final turn with 500 metres to go, the Manx decided not to follow.
Bauhaus crossed the line first and now leads Portugal's Costa overall by three seconds, with Nacer Bouhanni of France still in third.
Updated: February 6, 2020 09:47 PM