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Team UAE's Slovenian rider Tadej Pogacar celebrates his overall leader's pink jersey on the podium in front of the Colosseum, flanked by overall second-placed Team Bora's Colombian rider Daniel Martinez (L) and overall third-placed Team Ineos' British rider Geraint Thomas (R) after the 21st and last stage of the 107th Giro d'Italia cycling race, 125km from Rome to Rome on Sunday. Image Credit: AFP

Rome: Tadej Pogacar won the Giro d’Italia on Sunday, crossing the finish line in Rome in glorious sunshine and with the biggest winning margin in almost six decades.

The 25-year-old UAE Emirates rider won six of the 21 stages on the 3,400km tour that began in Turin, finishing 9min 56sec ahead of Colombia’s Daniel Martinez of Bora while Geraint Thomas of Ineos was 10min 24sec off the winning pace in third.

The overall triumph was sealed Sunday on the 21st stage around Rome, which was won by Belgian sprinter Tim Merlier, who picked up his third stage win of the 2024 Giro.

Early lead

Billed as a champion in waiting, Pogacar proved peerless taking the lead as early as stage two and rampaging across the peaks, plains and picturesque panoramas to triumph by the largest margin at any of cycling’s grand tours since Vittorio Adorni won the Giro by 11min 26sec in 1965.

The swashbuckling showman was decked out in the iconic pink leader’s jersey, riding a pink bike and even arriving on a pink bus as the route raced south.

Hoping to become the first rider to win both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France since Marco Pantani in 1998, Pogacar resembled more another rider, Eddy Merckx, also known for wanting to win as many stages as possible.

He won the opening time-trial, and the following day’s first major summit finish and would go on to romp home on the Queen stage in the Dolomites, doubling his lead in the process.

Italians took to Pogacar, cheering him through the dramatic port of Genoa, the chic Tuscan town of Lucca and the southern port of Naples and Pompei in the shadow of the volcanic Mount Vesuvius.

The two-time Tour de France winner had extended his lead slowly up the Adriatic coastline before the third week’s relentless series of ascents and descents in the Alps.