Fancy a return trip to Europe, Richie Porte? That was the gauntlet thrown down by Tadej Pogačar as the Slovenian wunderkind replaced Porte's Col de la Madone Strava KoM with one of his own.
On what was a 105km training ride at the weekend, double Tour de France winner Pogačar – who came second in the race last month behind Jonas Vingegaard, winning the white jersey classification – took 30 seconds off Aussie Porte's 2016 mark with a time of 23.53. He titled the ride 'Baiting @richieporte to come back in europe'.
Pogačar's ride began in his home city of Monaco, heading along the coast to Nice before doubling back inland to take on the Madone from both the west side and then the east side, and then retracing his steps back to Nice and then back along the coast to Monaco. A useful outing, perhaps in preparation for the fast-approaching Glasgow road World Championships – which Pogačar still has not confirmed he will ride or not.
Pogačar's KoM was set on the eastern 'Col de Madone via Gorbio' segment, which is 9.7km long at 7.1%, which the UAE Team Emirates rider covered at an average 24.5km. His VAM was 1,754 but his power output was notable by his absence.
Porte set his 24.23 on the climb during a May training ride in 2016, between the Tour de Romandie and the Critérium du Dauphiné when he was riding for the BMC team. Porte is now retired and has been back in his native Tasmania. He almost certainly would not actually be tempted to return to the Col de la Madone for another tilt at the Col de la Madone KoM – not on retirement fitness and against one of the world's best riders. But Pogačar knows that; the title of his ride is all a bit of fun in the Pogačar mold.
While that was the only KoM that Pogačar took on his latest ride, it proved a fruitful outing for cycling's most relaxed high-achiever. He took a number of second places on various sections of the famous climb, including the 5km St Agnes-Col de la Madone stretch, where Porte will happily note that he remains in the hot seat.
The Col de la Madone rose to prominence during the Lance Armstrong era, as one of the Texan's key training climbs, and gave its name to the Trek bike that he raced on during the Tour. While Armstrong's star has fallen, the Trek Madone lives on as a popular model in the US brand's line-up.
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