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Tadej Pogacar: Milan-San Remo is not a boring race anymore

Milano Sanremo 2022 - 113th Edition - Milano - Sanremo 293 km - 19/03/2022 - Tadej Pogacar (SLO - UAE Team Emirates) - photo Luca Bettini/BettiniPhoto©2022
One of the attacks on the Poggio by Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) (Image credit: Luca Bettini/BettiniPhoto)

Tadej Pogačar failed to continue his spring winning streak at Milan-San Remo but was proud to have raced aggressively, helping to make the sports longest race far more thrilling than usual.

UAE Team Emirates tried to explode the peloton on the Cipressa climb, with only 30 or so rides left up front at the summit. Then Pogačar attacked three times on the Poggio as he looked to distance the likes of Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), Michael Matthews (BikeExchange-Jayco) and the rest.

Pogačar could do little when fellow Slovenian Matej Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious) lowered his dropper post and dived down the descent but was still able to fight in the sprint for the podium places. He has recently won the UAE Tour, Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico but finished fifth at Milan-San Remo, between Matthews but ahead of Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo).

Post race, as the adrenaline faded and the fatigue of riding 300 kilometres began to emerge, Pogačar was still smiling, answering Cyclingnews’ questions as he sat on the steps of the UAE Team Emirates bus.

“I’m happy, we're happy. We produced a really good team display, we rode aggressively. What we did as a team is great for the future, and for future editions of Milan-San Remo,” Pogačar said.

Pogačar had hinted he and UAE Emirates would race aggressively over the Cipressa and then the Poggio. His attacks on the Poggio went close to snapping the elastic and distancing his rivals but each time they clawed him back.      

“I attacked too early and into a headwind the first time on the Poggio, that’s a mistake you can’t repair at Milan-San Remo,” he admitted.

“I tried two more times but the other guys were too good, even the sprinters who were with us at the end. But I'm happy with my performance, I think fifth place is really good. I wasn’t bad in the sprint but they were just too fast for me.”

Despite failing to win, Milan-San Remo seems to have enchanted Pogačar.

“I rode this race for the first time two years ago and thought it wasn’t a bad race. Now it’s one of the coolest races out there," he said.

“Finally Milan-San Remo is not a boring race anymore. I used to think it was a boring race before I turned pro. I’m happy to help it not be so boring anymore.”

He sportingly congratulated fellow Slovenian Mohorič on his win, and dropper post innovation.  

“He told me about his dropper post at the beginning of the race and warned me not to follow him on the descent of the Poggio. I told him he was crazy but praised him for coming up with the idea. He deserved his win,” Pogačar said.    

“For sure it makes a difference, that's why downhill mountain bikers use them,” he said of the dropper post marginal gain. “When he passed me on the descent I saw he was taking so, so many risks. I was on the front and he passed me and he already had his seatpost lowered.

“He went into the left hairpin and he was drifting and even went off the road a bit. It was a bit crazy so I told myself not to follow him and let the other guys do some of the work to chase him.”

Pogačar’s weekend of racing continues on Sunday, not with a number on his back but with a bidon in his hand and support for his partner Urska Zigart (Team BikeExchange-Jayco). Only then will he take a break and begin to think about the Tour of Flanders and the Ardennes Classics.

“I’m going to the Trofeo Binda to cheer along Urska who rides for the BikeExchange team. I’m excited about it, she’s in good shape. It’ll be a change of roles but it’s not bad to be a fan sometimes too.”        

“I now need three days off the bike and then I'll start to build-up for the Tour of Flanders. I’ll do some fun stuff on the cobbles and then do the Ardennes Classics too. There’s a fun month coming up and then we'll start thinking about the Tour de France too.”

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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.