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Tadej Pogacar ready for race of attrition at World Championships

Tadej Pogacar attacks during the 2020 World Championships in Imola
Pogacar on the attack during the 2020 Worlds road race in Imola (Image credit: Getty Images)

Tadej Pogačar and his Slovenian team have promised to make Sunday's elite men's road race at the UCI Road World Championships as hard as possible to give him the best possible chance of taking on the likes of Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel and so winning the rainbow jersey.   

After riding Sunday's time trial, Pogačar had suggested it wouldn't be possible to drop the Classics riders and fast finishers but was more upbeat when he spoke on Thursday after riding several laps of the Wollongong circuit on the official training day. 

"I think the course is really good for them, for these kinds of riders, they have such great power at the end of the races that is hard to match. But it's a long, a hard race, in the end it will be a race of attrition and tired legs. We will see what will happen in the race," Pogačar warned. 

"The course is super hard, already before the laps in Wollongong. There's the big climb [Mount Keira – Ed.] which is really hard. The legs will already get tired after 50km of racing. Then when you get to the circuit, there is no moment to rest in the final laps. 

"So after 250km of racing, the legs will be tired and the final steep climb on the circuit will be extremely hard. It's going to be a long race and a race where, one by one, there will be less people in the peloton." 

"We're thinking about victory. A perfect result would go with a perfect day, so we wait for Sunday and see how the race goes. I think we're capable of doing good things." 

Pogačar said he had overcome any jet lag problems, using Sunday's time trial as a chance to test his legs. He finished sixth, between Stefan Bissegger and Filippo Ganna and so has kept the form that saw him beat Van Aert and win the GP de Montréal.    

Pogačar made his WorldTour debut with UAE Team Emirates at the 2019 Tour Down Under and his special relationship with Allan Peiper has made him a fan of Australia. He also learnt the importance and significance of the World Championships.  

"When I was a junior or an under-23 it was a big deal but I never realised how important it is. When I did my first elite worlds in Yorkshire then I saw that it is something special. Since then I want to do it every year and try to do something," Pogačar explained. 

Slovenian only has a six-rider team after illness and crash injuries meant Primož Roglič and Matej Mohorič were unavailable. Jan Tratnik, Domen Novak, Jan Polanc, Jaka Primožič, and David Per will do what they can to help Pogačar but are unlikely to be there in the final laps. 

As has often been the case in his career, Pogačar will have to take on his rivals single-handedly on the final laps of the Wollongong circuit.  

He did not seem overly concerned. He is used to monument classic racing and already has Il Lombardia and Liège-Bastogne-Liège on his palmarès.

"We still think we're one of the strongest teams here, so we can battle against the bigger nation for the medals," he said, defending Slovenian hopes.

"I don't know if we're under pressure. We are down to six guys already, while Belgium, France, Italy, and Great Britain all have more guys than us and stronger teams, maybe the pressure is on them."  

Pogačar was defeated by Jumbo-Visma at the Tour de France, when Jonas Vingegaard and Primož Roglič took turns to attack on the stage to the Col du Granon. He refused to say if he had learnt any lessons from that defeat but seemed confident in his ability.  

"You'll have to wait for Sunday to see what we'll do," Pogačar said, refusing to reveal exactly how he will race if he is out numbered. 

"It's racing and we need to do our own thing. For sure we won't say what we'll do, that wouldn't make sense. We'll focus on ourselves and do our own race, rather than think about anyone else. I am super motivated and I will give it my best on Sunday." 

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