The drama of this weeks Itzulia Basque Country continued right to the end with Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) taking the overall title and a valiant 3rd place for Tadej Pogačar (+1 ’07”).
The last stage, a relatively short (111.9 km from Ondarroa to Arrate) but very demanding ride with 7 mountain climbs began with Brandon McNulty in the yellow jersey as leader and Tadej Pogačar in 5th place.
With just over 60 km from the finish, a large group moved away over the top of the Elosua Climb which allowed Primoz Roglic to escape from the main group led by UAE Team Emirates.
After a frantic chase by Hirschi and Pogačar, McNulty lost contact from the group and would concede the yellow jersey.
Pogačar remained to fight in the heat of the race but struggled to find collaboration in the group as the gap dangled at 50 ” from the head of the race composed of Roglic, Hugh Carthy (Ef ) and David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ).
Despite an intense chase, Pogačar crossed the finish line in 5th position at 35“ behind the winner Gaudu, a result that ensured the 2020 Tour de France champion was able to grab a place on the final podium (his first podium at Itzulia Basque Country).
Pogačar: “We hoped that the stage would go a little differently for us. We tried to control the race initially, but when Astana attacked they managed to build up a gap quickly, forcing Marc Hirschi and me to lead the chase, even though it was a little too late.
“We then arrived at the most challenging point of the stage, and Brandon got detached. It was then up to me to fight for the podium and I had to push really deep for 40km.
“It was one of the most demanding stages both mentally and physically that I have ever done in my career”.
Order of arrival 6th stage:
1. David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) 3h05’42”
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) s.t.
3. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +35 ”
5. Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) s.t.
Final general classification:
1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 19h11’36”
2. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +52″
3. Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) + 1’07″