The last few meters turned into a triumphal ride. Tadej Pogacar and his team-mate Rafal Majka initially collected one escape after the other. Five kilometers before the end they were alone. The lead kept growing, the duo was uncatchable. So how do you decide who wins the stage in a direct duel?

Pogacar could have easily started on the final climb towards the Velika Planina plateau. The 23-year-old Radstar is considered one of the best mountain bikers in the world. He has dominated the Tour de France, known for its tough passes in the Alps and Pyrenees, for the past two years. Majka would probably have been powerless.

However, the two drivers of the UAE team opted for a different variant. About 50 meters before the finish of the fourth stage of the Tour of Slovenia, they figured out the winner with bells and whistles. Pogacar chose stone, Majka paper – victory for the Pole. Local hero Pogacar had to give way to his teammate. They crossed the finish line arm in arm, Majka won the 152.5 kilometer section that had started in Lasko.

“I would like to thank Tadej and the whole team. We got through the last climb well, always knowing that Tadej is better than everyone else. He still let me win the stage,” said Majka. Pogacar can handle the defeat. He had won the third stage on Friday and thus celebrated his first victory in around three months.

In the overall standings, Pogacar leads Majka by three seconds going into the final stage. His first competitor from another team (Domen Novak/Bahrain Victorious) is already 1:56 minutes. Pogacar uses the tour in his home country as a dress rehearsal for the Tour de France, which starts in two weeks.

He doesn’t take any risks for a start at the highlight of the year. “We isolate ourselves as best we can,” said Pogacar in view of the increasing number of corona infections in cycling, noting: “For the first two days we wrote autographs and took photos with the people. Now we’re keeping our distance because we want to be at the start of the Tour.” Pogacar’s Danish teammate Mikkel Bjerg tested positive. As a precaution, his Norwegian roommate Vegard Stake Laengen also had to leave.

In the past few days, more than 40 professional cyclists had to drop out of the Tour de Suisse prematurely, and four teams left the race completely. There were also three corona cases in the German team Bora hansgrohe. “For the sake of our sport, I don’t hope that the Tour de France will just become a lottery,” said team boss Ralph Denk.