Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) says he "didn't dare" follow eventual winner Matej Mohorič (Bahrain-Victorious) on the final descent at Milan-San Remo, saying his Slovenian compatriot was already taking big risks when he first passed him.
The Tour de France champion came up short of victory, taking fifth on the line, after animating the 113th edition of the Italian Monument with repeated attacking on the final ascent of the Poggio.
A marked man, the 23-year-old was unable to dislodge his closest rival Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), and couldn't make a move with Søren Kragh Andersen (DSM) stick after Pogačar followed the Dane's attack within 500m of the Poggio summit.
On the notoriously technical descent from the top, it was Mohorič that put the most powerful riders in the world in the shade, taking significant risks to gap Pogačar and the other riders before soloing to victory. Mohorič revealed after the race that he was using a dropper post to aide his descending.
Pogačar finished the race satisfied despite seeing his hopes of victory fade on the Poggio descent, saying he simply wouldn't follow "crazy" Mohorič on the downhill.
“I’m happy: we showed a great team performance, racing proactively," Pogačar said after the finish.
"Congratulations to my team-mates and congratulations to Matej Mohorič, he deserved the victory: before the race, he told me not to try to follow him downhill and I replied that I was aware that it would be very difficult to follow him, since I know that he is crazy when the road goes down and also having noticed that he had a seat post dropper to launch even better.
"In fact, when he overtook me downhill, I saw that he was already taking big risks, drifting and even coming off the road, so I didn’t dare follow him."
Pogačar has been at his formidable best so far this season, winning the two stage races - the UAE Tour and Tirreno-Adriatico - and his only one-day race Strade Bianche before competing at Milan-San Remo. He'll next head for his debut at the Flemish Classics at Dwars door Vlaanderen (March 30), before his second Monument of the year at the Tour of Flanders (April 3). Before that though, he says he'll need some rest.
"What we have done today as a team is an excellent sign for the next races and for the Milan-San Remo editions that we will race in the next few years," Pogačar said. "It was a very fun Classic.
"Now three days of rest await me, then I’ll start preparing my next appointments ”.
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