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Pogacar: The pressure for this year's Tour de France is already there

UNSPECIFIED SPAIN APRIL 06 Start Primoz Roglic of Slovenia and Team Jumbo Visma Yellow Leader Jersey Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia and UAE Team Emirates Polka Dot Mountain Jersey during the 60th ItzuliaVuelta Ciclista Pais Vasco 2021 Stage 2 a 1548km stage from Zalla to Sestao 48m Mask Covid Safety Measures itzulia ehitzulia on April 06 2021 in Sestao Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images
Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) on right chats with Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) who is again expected to be a key rival at the Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The start of this year’s Tour de France may still be nearly two months away but Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) is already embroiled in the preparation that comes with the pursuit of another yellow jersey.

"The pressure for this year's Tour is already there, but it gives me extra motivation,” Pogačar told RTV Slovenia

“I'm going to the Tour with an approach so I can repeat again and win the yellow jersey for the third time."

The two-time winner said he is slowly stepping up his training, which he has recently been doing on home roads in Slovenia after he cut short his last racing block to support his  fiance Urška Žigart after the death of her mother. 

However, Pogačar will soon move further afield, heading off for more Tour de France stage reconnaissance, to add to his post Tour of Flanders exploration of the cobbles of Stage 5, before a three week block of altitude training in Livigno, Italy. 

“Next weekend I'm going to the Pyrenees to see the stages of this year's race, then the chronometer and then three stages in the Alps,” said Pogacar. 

“I'll be busy before the altitude training, we're already on the Tour."

UAE Team Emirates have recently announced that Pogačar and his teammates will train at altitude in Livigno, close to the Italian-Swiss border and Sankt Moritz. 

Pogačar said he will also be looking to fit in another block of racing before the Tour de France, returning home to defend his Tour of Slovenia title from June 15 to June 19, in a bid to “return to the competitive rhythm to get used to a large group, attacks and high heart rate”.

“After the Race around Slovenia I don't know what awaits me in in the meantime, maybe I'll go to the heights again for a week, and then I'll go to Copenhagen to start the Tour, " Pogačar said.

 Pogačar named fellow Slovenian Primož Roglič as his biggest Tour de France rival in 2022. 

Roglič finished second in 2020, with Pogačar taking the lead from his fellow Slovenian in the time trial on the penultimate stage. In 2021, however, the three-time Vuelta a España winner didn't reach Paris, eventually abandoning after two heavy crashes in the early stages of the race.

Knee pain has had an impact this season, with Roglič not having raced since Itzulia Basque Country in early April, but his Jumbo-Visma team last week said that after a period of rehabilitation he is now ramping up to a full training load as he heads to a team training camp in Sierra Nevada, Spain. 

Roglič's knee issues, however, don't appear to have changed Pogačar's regard for the threat he poses in the race for yellow.

“We drive each other to the finish line, everyone wants to win for their team. It will be the same on the Tour,” Pogačar told RTV Slovenia. 

“I am already looking forward to this duel – of course there are others – but it is also in my mind that Primož is the most dangerous for me.”

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Simone joined the team as Production Editor based in Australia at the start of the 2021 season, having previously worked as Australian Editor at Ella CyclingTips and correspondent for Reuters and Bloomberg.