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Tadej Pogacar set for Tour of Flanders debut in 2022

Il Lombardia 2021 - 115th Edition - Como - Bergamo 239 km - 09/10/2021 - Tadej Pogacar (SLO - UAE Team Emirates) - Fausto Masnada (ITA - Deceuninck - Quick-Step) - photo Luca Bettini/BettiniPhoto©2021
Pogacar winning Il Lombardia this year (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Tadej Pogačar is set to make his Tour of Flanders debut in 2022, outlining plans to ride four of the five one-day Monument races as well as the Tour de France and Vuelta a España. 

In addition to clinching his second consecutive yellow jersey this year, the Slovenian also won Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Il Lombardia, becoming the third rider in history to win the Tour and two Monuments in the same season. 

Pogačar's race programme will be set in stone at a UAE Team Emirates gathering in Italy this week, but he has said he will 'almost certainly' sign up for Flanders in addition to Milan-San Remo and Liège in the spring, and then Lombardia in the autumn.

The only Monument missing from his programme will be Paris-Roubaix, but he plans to target another major one-day event at the World Championships in Australia at the end of the season. Between then and the spring, there will be a Grand Tour double as he prepares to return to the Vuelta after vying for a third Tour title.

"The start will be similar to this year, I will open the season with the UAE Tour, which is very important for the team," Pogačar told Slovenian media after being named the country's sportsperson of the year.

"I will almost certainly compete in four monuments - all but Paris-Roubaix - two Grand Tours, and probably also the World Championships, where the route will not be so flat and it will be difficult to control. The season will be quite strenuous, and the Tour of Slovenia is also planned."

Pogačar's Flanders debut on April 3 will be highly anticipated as he races on cobblestones for the first time. The parcours is more suited to the robust Classics riders but there is a sense that the 23-year-old possesses the all-around ability to thrive, with Julian Alaphilippe, Vincenzo Nibali, and Alejandro Valverde all making eye-catching cobbled cameos in recent years. 

Pogačar has seemingly not been tempted as far as Paris-Roubaix, despite stage 9 of this year's Tour de France featuring a crucial run along with the kind of cobblestone sectors that characterise 'The Hell of the North'. 

Next year Paris-Roubaix takes place a week later than usual, the weekend before La Flèche Wallonne and Liège, which are big targets for Pogačar. Still, Pogačar will no doubt make use of Flanders' proximity to Roubaix in order to reconnoitre the pavé he'll come across in July.

As for his Grand Tour ambitions, Pogačar is set to ride two in one season for the first time. In his first season as a pro in 2019, he rode the Vuelta, finishing third overall after winning three stages, before winning the Tour de France in 2020 and 2021.

Pogačar will link up with his UAE Team Emirates teammates on Thursday at a training camp in northern Italy. It's more of a preliminary gathering, with training to intensify with further camps in January.  

"I want the same season or better, but I don't expect it," Pogačar said. 

"You can always look for reserves, even if you're the best. I'm working as I am, and obviously, it's paying off."

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