Pogacar caps historic season with Il Lombardia victory

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Tadej Pogacar has won the Tour de France and two monument races this season (AFP/Marco BERTORELLO)

Tadej Pogacar won cycling's Il Lombardia on Saturday after seeing off an all-star field to win the final big race of the season.

UAE Team Emirates rider Pogacar capped a stunning year by holding off a pursuit from local boy Fausto Masnada to claim victory in Bergamo after winning his second straight Tour de France and Liege-Bastogne-Liege this season.

Two monuments and the Tour in one season is a historic feat which puts the 23-year-old alongside the likes of Eddy Merckx and Fausto Coppi.

An eventful race began with a small group initially led by Intermarche's Jan Bakelants breaking away after 30 kilometres and creating a gap of over six minutes on the peloton.

By the time the leaders reached the Dossena climb with 90km remaining that lead had been cut to two minutes, and once over the Zambla Alta the leading group had been cut from 10 to five with the peloton just 25 seconds back.

They were eventually caught heading down the subsequent descent with 55km to go as the numerous big guns battled for good positions ahead of the final 10km ascent up to Passo di Ganda, the key climb which was expected to be crucial to the outcome before the race.

The only major name out of contention by this point was Simon Yates, who had been dropped by the peloton with 71km to go and never made his way back to the front of the pack.

Pogacar made his move about halfway up the Passo Di Ganda climb, bursting away completely alone after Vincezo Nibali had been caught and extending his lead over a clutch of the world's biggest names -- including in-form compatriot Primoz Roglic and world champion Julian Alaphilippe -- to 35 seconds.

He was then chased by local boy Fausto Masnada, who charged down roads he knew very well to slowly chip away at Pogacar's lead on the winding descent through the verdant countryside outside the city of his birth.

Masnada joined Pogacar just as the descent flattened out on the with 16km remaining with the chasing group 44 seconds back, a gap which remained more or less constant once the pack starting bickering over workload.

But Masnada was no match for Pogacar in the final kilometres and the Slovenian star crossed the line first to enter the history books.

td/dmc

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