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Tadej Pogacar: I would love to win Strade Bianche

SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia and UAE Team Emirates Mathieu Van Der Poel of Netherlands and Team AlpecinFenix Julian Alaphilippe of France and Team Deceuninck QuickStep during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo Gravel Strokes Breakaway Dust StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
Tadej Pogacar made the winning breakaway in Strade Bianche 2021 but finished seventh (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) is better known for his two victories in the Tour de France than for his abilities in the Spring Classics, but he is heading into Saturday's Strade Bianche with one thing on his mind: victory.

The 23-year-old has missed the podium in his three previous attempts. Last year Pogacar made the winning breakaway but lost contact when Van der Poel attacked on the brutal gravel climb of Le Tolfe with 13km to go and finished seventh. He was 13th in 2020, and a distant 30th in his debut in 2019. 

"It’s no secret that Strade is a race I really like and would love to win, but we’ll also have [Alessandro] Covi who is on great form and experienced guys like [Diego] Ulissi too so we’re well covered," Pogacar said.

Maybe Pogacar will take a little bit of cyclo-cross magic into the race like Van der Poel and Wout van Aert: he won a cyclo-cross race this winter, the Ciklokros Ljubljana. He's also shown his prowess at major one-day races, winning both Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Il Lombardia last season.

Finally, after victories in the two mountain stages of the UAE Tour and the overall classification, Pogacar has the climbing form he will need for the steep climbs that decide Strade Bianche. If he falters, he has teammate Covi - winner of the Alcalá la Real stage of Ruta del Sol - to cover the moves.

UAE Team Emirates for Strade Bianche: Mikkel Bjerg, Alessandro Covi, Maximiliano Richeze, Vegard Stake Laengen, Tadej Pogačar, Marc Soler, Diego Ulissi.

From Strade Bianche, the team will head to the coast for Tirreno-Adriatico where Pogacar will look to defend his title. The race dropped its short final time trial, but Pogacar expects a hard race.

"Tirreno-Adriatico was a big victory in my career last year and one I hold dear, I’m excited to go back there," Pogacar said. "They have changed the race format a little bit from last year but as always it will be long and hard stages every day.”

UAE Team Emirates for Tirreno-Adriatico: Pascal Ackermann, Mikkel Bjerg, Davide Formolo, Rafal Majka, Tadej Pogačar, Marc Soler, Maximiliano Richeze.

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Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Deputy Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. A former elite-level road racer who dabbled in cyclo-cross and track, Laura has a passion for all three disciplines. When not working she likes to go camping and explore lesser traveled roads, paths and gravel tracks.