NICE, France (AP)An impressive Tadej Pogacar clinched the final stage with a solo escape to win the week-long Paris-Nice race on Sunday.
David Gaudu finished second overall, 53 seconds behind Pogacar, while Jonas Vingegaard was third at 1 minute, 39 seconds back.
Pogacar attacked during the climb of Col d’Eze with 18 kilometers (11.2 miles) to go, finishing the eighth stage 33 seconds ahead of a small group made up of Vingegaard, Gaudu, Simon Yates and Matteo Jorgenson.
The Slovenian rider completed the 118-kilometer trek around Nice in 2 hours, 51 minutes, 2 seconds, crossing the finish line with both arms raised before taking a bow in front of the crowd and clapping his hands.
Pogacar now has a slight mental edge over Vingegaard, also outclassing him last October to win the Tour of Lombardy.
The duel between Pogacar and Vingegaard has become one of the biggest rivalries in cycling. Vingegaard finished second behind Pogacar in the 2021 Tour de France. But the Danish rider managed to beat Pogacar in the 2022 Tour de France for his first major title.
Vingegaard still has time to hit peak form. The Tour de France starts July 1.
Pogacar is the current leader in the UCI men’s road racing world rankings.
Pogacar and Vingegaard both started the season well. Last month in Spain, Pogacar won the Tour of Andalucia while Vingegaard won the O Gran Camino. Pogacar took the yellow jersey on Wednesday by winning the fourth stage. He dumped Vingegaard in the climb of La Loge des Gardes. Only Gaudu could stay on Pogacar’s wheel.
The two-time Tour de France winner extended his overall lead by taking the seventh stage on Saturday, beating Gaudu and Vingegaard in a small sprint atop Col de la Couillole.
French rider Gaudu finished fourth overall in the 2022 Tour de France but failed to finish in the past two editions of Paris-Nice.
The next race on the UCI World Tour is the Milan-San Remo classic on March 18.
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