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Pogacar pushes back against pressure to target Giro-Tour double

Team UAE Emirates Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia celebrates his overall leader yellow jersey on the podium at the end of the 15th stage of the 108th edition of the Tour de France cycling race 191 km between Ceret and AndorreLaVieille on July 11 2021 Photo by Philippe LOPEZ AFP Photo by PHILIPPE LOPEZAFP via Getty Images
Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Tadej Pogačar has pushed back at calls for him to target the Giro d’Italia-Tour de France double next year but hinted it could happen in 2023.

Last week the director of the Giro d’Italia, Mauro Vegni, challenged Pogačar to go for cycling’s most difficult Grand Tour double, suggesting that it does not make a difference how many times a rider wins the Tour de France as "there’s little else to prove" after the first title.

23-year-old Pogačar won the 2020 and 2021 editions of the Tour de France and has said he will one day target the Corsa Rosa. However, he intends to target a third Tour win in 2022, with the Giro-Tour double only a possibility in 2023 or beyond. 

"I am still pretty young, I’ve never raced two Grand Tours in one year, so it’s a bit risky to try next year," Pogačar told ESPN Brazil cautiously.  

"Maybe next year I can do the Tour and Vuelta. Then maybe in the next two or three years I try to do the Giro and the Tour."

When pushed to confirm if they were his goals, Pogačar said: "It’s possible."

Pogačar and UAE Team Emirates have still to confirm their goals for 2022. However, the Slovenian is expected to return to the Tour, while new signing João Almeida targets the Giro d’Italia despite the limited time trials on the route. 

"It’s almost certain I’ll go back to the Tour and go for the win but I don’t really feel the pressure to win again," Pogačar told Cyclingnews during a recent exclusive interview.

Pogačar has raced three Grand Tours during his short but successful career. He finished third and won three stages on his Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta a España in 2019, then won back-to-back yellow jerseys in the 2020 and 2021 Tours de France. He snatched victory from fellow Slovenian Primož Roglič in 2020 and dominated this year’s race.

UAE Team Emirates were initially keen for Pogačar to ride this year’s Vuelta but he opted to take a break after winning a bronze medal in the Tokyo Olympic road race. He rode a series of one-day races in the final part of the 2021 season, signing off with a dominant victory at Il Lombardia to go along with his victory at Liège-Bastogne-Liège in the spring.

Marco Pantani was the last rider to pull off the rare Giro-Tour double, winning both races in 1998, a year before he was disqualified from the Giro d’Italia for a high blood haematocrit level.

Meanwhile, Chris Froome was the last rider to make a serious attempt at winning the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France in the same season. He won the 2018 Giro but was third in the Tour de France as teammate Geraint Thomas took overall victory. 

A month between the two races makes the Giro-Tour double one of the hardest achievements in the sport. Only seven riders have completed the feat of the double. 

Fausto Coppi was the first in 1949 and did it again in 1952. Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain each achieved it twice, in 1982 and 1985, and 1992-93, respectively, while Jacques Anquetil (1964), Stephen Roche (1987), and Pantani did it once. Eddy Merckx is the only one to complete three doubles, having done so in 1970, 1972, and 1974.

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