Pogacar seizes the lead in California after gruelling penultimate stage
Tadej Pogacar kept pace with the Tour of California contenders on the final climb of Stage 6 and then surpassed them to take the stage win and the race lead.
At 127.5km, the stage between Ontario to Mount Baldy was the shortest on the week-long tour but the riders had to tackle more than 3,500 metres of climbing.
The race leader going into Friday’s stage was American Tejay van Garderen, but the American cracked on the final ascent with three kilometres to the finish leaving the yellow jersey race wide open.
Van Garderen’s Education First teammate Sergio Higuita put the hammer down but UAE Team Emirates rider Pogacar – only 16 seconds behind Van Garderen in the overall classification – matched every move.
Pogacar, the 20-year-old Slovenian, got a break when Higuita ran wide into a corner and he was able to take the stage victory.
He now leads the race by 16 seconds over Higuita, with Danish rider Kasper Asgreen four seconds further back.
Van Garderen fell to ninth, 82 seconds off the pace, going into Saturday’s final stage.