No one has stopped Tadej Pogačar in 2022, who won Tirreno-Adriatico stage 6 in dominant fashion, dropping everyone on the steep Monte Carpgena climb, where mythical climber Marco Pantani used to train back in the 1990s.
Pogačar’s biggest GC threat, Remco Evenepoel, was dropped surprisingly early on the first of two Monte Carpegna (6 km, 9.9%) ascents together with the Giro d’Italia 2020 winner Tao Geoghegan Hart. The peloton still was big and it was surprising to see Remco dropping so early. He has struggled on steep climbs previously (Maigmo Tibi in Valenciana 2022), but this was a new low for Evenepoel in 2022.
Quinn Simmons once again was the last survivor of the breakaway. He dropped Alex Aranburu and Julian Alaphilippe on the first Carpegna ascent and went solo to get maximum KOM points to guarantee his win in the KOM competition. UAE-Emirates was pacing with Rafal Majka and Marc Soler to make the race harder for Tadej Pogačar, who excels after hard days. Both Majka and Soler have performed well as domestiques for Pogačar in 2022 so far. It was 3 degrees Celsius on the climb, very cold weather, which suits the Slovenian more than Vingegaard or Spanish riders like Mas, who perform better in hot weather.
Bahrain-Victorious went to the front before the descent. The descent was very narrow and technical, with snow everywhere close to the road. Damiano Caruso almost crashed, but saved himself narrowly with team leader Landa just behind him.
Before the last Monte Carpegna ascent, Simmons was caught. Bahrain-Victorious tried with Pello Bilbao, who attacked on the false flat downhill section, but that did not work. The first attack on Carpergna was from Giulio Ciccone followed by Mikel Landa putting the pressure on and dropping almost everyone except Enric Mas, Tadej Pogačar and Jonas Vingegaard.
Pogačar ended everything with 16 km to go and annihilated everyone with his nuclear acceleration. It was visibly game over for everyone, with the other GC contenders not even getting out of their saddle to respond to his move. The riders behind him fought for minor places like in the Tour de France stage 8 2021, knowing it was pointless to chase Pogačar, who is so much better than the competition in Tirreno-Adriatico.
Pogačar rode on rim-brakes to save weight, now one of the only riders to use a rim brake bike on certain stages in the pro peloton. On steep ascents like Carpegna (average 10% gradient for 20 minutes), every gram saved is important. He quickly gained a one minute lead over his closest rivals meaning there was no need to risk anything in the descent for Pogačar, as he soloed to his 6th World Tour victory in 2022.
Vingegaard and Landa finished one minute later, dropping Richie Porte on the descent, which was tricky as Enric Mas crashed hard and lost his GC position.
A nice performance from Thibaut Pinot, who finished 7th. In the early 2022 season he looks better than in 2021. Injuries have influenced his career badly in the last couple of years. Evenepoel did not give up and finished 13th, losing 4 minutes to Pogačar and dropping from 2nd to 11th in the GC.
Tirreno-Adriatico will end with a sprint stage. The sprinters remaining include Merlier, Cavendish, Demare and Kooij with Peter Sagan, Nacer Bouhanni, Simone Consonni and stage 3 winner Caleb Ewan having already dropped out of Tirreno-Adriatico. It might be a good chance for the young Dutch sprinter on Jumbo-Visma, Kooij, to get his first World Tour victory.
Pogačar performed at his normal level today, doing 6.50 w/kg for 19:29 on the second ascent of Monte Carpegna after a lot of fatigue. Vingegaard, Porte, Mas and Landa lost to him 1 minute and 24 seconds on the 6 kilometre climb.
Marco Pantani used to use Carpegna as his training climb. In one of the tests he climbed Carpegna in 16 minutes and 22 seconds, which is more than 3 minutes faster than Pogačar’s time today. Pantani with fresh legs produced 8,05 w/kg for 16:22, according to Naichaca’s calculations, which is absurdly high.
Pogačar’s Monte Carpegna is not an outstanding performance by his standards or compared to other top 2022 climbing performances. It is even under the nuclear trendline, which is Pogačar’s peak level.
Pogačar has done many better efforts than Carpegna, which was in 3 degrees and right after a hard climb. They did Carpegna for the first time in 22:20. Almost three minutes slower than what Pogačar did on the second ascent. Once again, Pogacar’s biggest strength is his consistency throughout the year in being able to produce close to his peak level on 15-30 minute climbs even after a hard stage beforehand.