PARIS: Tadej Pogacar (pix) came out on top again after another heavyweight brawl with fellow Slovenian Primoz Roglic on Wednesday in the Tour of the Basque Country (click to view video).
The ride to Ermualde finished with three sharp climbs in the final 20 kilometres. On the last one, Pogacar, who rides for Team UAE, took the lead and was quickly joined by Roglic of Jumbo-Visma.
The two Slovenians quickly dropped the rest of the star-studded leading group.
It was a renewal of the rivalry which went to the penultimate day of last year's Tour de France, when Pogacar overtook his older countryman on the penultimate stage.
But when they started looking at each other rather than working together, some of the chasers briefly caught up.
After cresting the final climb, Pogacar attacked again. Only Roglic could go with him. But he could not stay with Pogacar as they sprinted for the line.
Once again, Pogacar threw the final blow, turning to look Roglic in the face before punching the air as he crossed the line.
Both men completed the 167.7km stage in 4hr 4min and 50sec.
They were chased home by 40-year-old Spaniard Alejandro Valverde of Movistar. He finished five seconds back in third with Briton Adam Yates of Ineos fourth in the same time.
Roglic retained the overall lead but, with time bonuses, Pogacar cut the gap to 20 seconds and his American UAE team-mate Brandon McNulty is third a further 10 seconds back. Yates is fourth at 39 seconds.
Thursday's stage four runs from Vitoria to Hondarribia, over 189km. – AFP