Diego Ulissi Wins 3rd Stage And Takes The Green Jersey
Italian Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) was among the strongest on the opening stages of 26th Tour of Slovenia, but was short of the stage victory. Not today however, he attacked on the last climb and later also on the descent to Idrija and took the stage victory and the overall lead.
Best Slovenian was Ulissi's teammate Tadej Pogačar in fifth. Stage will go in history due to new milestone – 20-thousandth kilometer of the race!
UAE Team Emirates has very strong team on the race and is showing their strength on each of the stages. Their three leaders were in the middle of the action on the first and second stage, but today finally took the victory. Ulissi is now also in green jersey of the race leader, Pogačar is still in the white jersey of the best young cyclists on the race.
170 kilometers long stage from Žalec to Idrija had four categorized climbs, but the stage was as expected decided on the Medvedje Brdo and Dole, two final climbs. Long breakaway ended ahead of the last climb, folloed by instant attack of the climbers. Eventually the group of four riders was formed: Russian Aleksandr Vlasov (Gazprom-Rusvelo), Italian Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates), Colombian Esteban Chaves (Michelton-Scott) & Slovenian Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates). They were together all the way to the final kilometer of the climb and short chat between Ulissi and Pogačar. Ulissi attacked right after that, with Vlasov only one that could follow him. Ulissi was then stronger on the descent and won for the first time on 26th Tour of Slovenia.
“On the climb I’ve asked Pogačar if he will cover my back and so it happened,” said Ulissi after the race, and added: “I’ve already showed that I’m in the good form, and today I finally won the stage. I want to win when I’m in the good form and I’m happy I did it today. Chasers were getting closer on the last descent, so I attacked again and left Vlasov behind me. I’m racing day by day, I still feel Giro in my legs and I don’t know how my body will react. The most important thing for me is that I won the stage.”
His teammate Tadej Pogačar showed even stronger performance than in the last days and said this after the second hardest and ahead of hardest stage: “We’re planning the attack in the last kilometer of the climb, but I didn’t felt strong enough to do it. I couldn’t stay with Vlasov, but I also saw that Chaves can’t keep up. I gave my best to get away from him, but couldn’t get to the leaders, so the group with Chaves caught up with me.
I tried to joined Ulissi on the descent, but I didn’t had enough strength. I was controlling the situation and made sure that nobody will go ahead, on the end I even took third in the sprint finish. This was a good day for us and we now have the green jersey. Hardest stage is now ahead of us and we’ll defend the green jersey, I hope we’ll do it. Maybe even I get a better placing, my legs are feeling better and better.”
Tadej was fifth and is now sixth in the overall standings. Jan Polanc was one place behind him, he’s just behind him in the overalls as well. Tadej defended the jersey of the best young cyclist.
Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-Scott) had to say goodbye to the green jersey, but has kept the red one after another great day in the saddle: “I was suffering on the last climb. I was riding at my own pace, I knew that I can’t keep up with cyclists that are 10 kilos lighter than me. I was in my own group and it went OK. I was fighting for the points on the end, I won the sprint of our group and defended the red jersey. Fourth stage will be the hardest one for sure, but for me it’s a day off. I will try to save my energy for the last day and finish in Novo mesto.”
Tour of Slovenia came to a new milestone today – the total distance of all stages on the race (that is taking place from 1993) has today reach 20.000 kilometers. That happened on the climb to Rovte.
Uissi is now 12 seconds ahead of Vlasov and another 5 ahead of group of six riders. But nothing is decided yet, hardest stage is still about to come.
Stage three highlights: