Slovenian Tadej Pogacar won the Saitama Cycling Criterium in Japan on Sunday. Pogacar, double winner of the Tour in 2020 and 2021 and second in the last two editions behind Jonas Vingegaard, beat the American Sepp Kuss in the sprint to finally win for his first participation.
This annual competition, created in 2013 by the Amaury Sport Organization group, which also manages the Tour de France, allows winners and stars of the Grande Boucle to compete in the Saitama department, in the north of the country.
Slovakian Peter Sagan, who is retiring from road racing to return to mountain biking next year, finished third.
Tadej Pogacar has had an eventful year, between returning from a broken wrist to take part in the Tour de France, and third consecutive victory in the Tour of Lombardy.
He also won Paris-Nice, the Flèche Wallonne, the Tour of Flanders and the Amstel Gold Race.
“He doesn’t just win, he wins with enthusiasm,” Briton Mark Cavendish, winner of 34 Tour stages, said after the Criterium, adding that the 25-year-old rider was “his son’s idol.”
“So if a 5-year-old child gets excited about a race, it’s because he’s an exciting runner to watch,” he assured.