Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) will be making his debut as a pro in Italian stage racing at Tirreno-Adriatico on Wednesday and he took the opportunity of his pre-race press conference to reveal that an even bigger race in Italy - Giro d'Italia - could be on the cards for him in 2022.
“This year I’ll do the Tour de France, Olympics and probably the Vuelta, so maybe next year it’ll be finally time for the Giro,” Pogačar told reporters.
After winning in the UAE Tour, his first race of the season, which was without any extra training over the winter to hit the ground running in February. Pogačar also rode a strong Strade Bianche last weekend, placing seventh, and with that kind of form along with his massive stage racing credentials, he’ll be a firm favourite for Tirreno-Adriatico.
It’s a reminder of how much the young Slovenian achieved in his comparatively short pro career that this will be the first time the 22-year-old has ever done the “Race of Two Seas,” or any other pro stage race in Italy.
“I’ve only ever done stage races at U23 and Juniors previously here,” said Pogačar, who won the Giro di Lunigiana and Giro di Friuli stage races in Italy before turning pro.
“I love racing here though, the food is super-good, and the fans are also fantastic.”
While recognising the superiority of Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) in Strade Bianche, and also pointing to Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) as a rival to watch from Wednesday onwards, Pogačar said that he will be aiming for the win in Tirreno-Adriatico.
“I was quite satisfied in Strade, it was full gas all day and even more impressive to see Mathieu go for it like that when we were almost finished. But we will see what happens," he said.
“I’m coming here in good shape, I just hope for some solid results and will try for the win. We’ve got a great quality team here too.”
Pogačar recognised that with his much higher profile, there were more sponsor responsibilities, but he also said, “you have to accept it and be happy I can do it.”
He was satisfied, too, he said, with his new re-signed contract with UAE which runs for an exceptionally long period, through to 2026.
“It’s something new in cycling but it’s good for me and good for the team,” he argued, “I feel really comfortable here, they trust me and I trust them, so for me, with more years on the contract, that’s good.”
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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