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Tadej Pogacar to race Vuelta a Espana after Tour de France as team avoids questions about his dominance

Tour de France 2021 108th Edition 11th stage Sorgues Malaucene 1989 km 07072021 Tadej Pogacar SLO UAE Team Emirates photo GVGBettiniPhoto2021
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

UAE Team Emirates have confirmed that Tadej Pogačar will race the Vuelta España later this year. 

The Slovenian currently leads the Tour de France with a little under two weeks of racing remaining but will head to Spain for his second attempt at the Vuelta, having finished second back in 2019.

Speaking to Spanish newspaper AS, UAE general manager Joxean Fernández Matxin confirmed that Pogačar will head to the Vuelta but stressed that winning the Tour de France was the complete focus for the time being, with the Slovenian on course to win back-to-back titles.

"Yes, the Vuelta is on Tadej’s programme, although right now we’re focused on the Tour and achieving a second title with him. I hope he doesn’t finish the Tour very tired so he can go there to do well," he told the Spanish publication.

Heading into Thursday’s stage 12 of the Tour de France, the race leader holds a 5:18 lead over Rigoberto Urán (EF Education-Nippo). 

Although Pogačar showed his first signs of weakness on the final ascent of Mont Ventoux on stage 11, Matxin is confident in both his leader and the riders around him. 

"We need to control the race and avoid mishaps or crashes, and anything beyond the sporting side. We have the calmness that comes with work well done and we have a considerable margin with respect to our rivals," he said. 

When asked if he had faith in the team around Pogačar, Matxin was confident, having seen the likes of Rafal Majka outlast a number of Pogacar’s rivals on stage 11.

"Yes, you only have to look at the TV these last days. On the Alpine stages, of the last 14 riders, we had four. The squad is solid and we have implicit trust in Tadej, Tadej in his teammates, and Tadej in Tadej.

"Tadej is possibly at a very similar level to last year. However, the crashes and nerves from the start, which didn’t hamper him, ended up getting rid of some big names like Roglic and Thomas, and opening a big gap over the other favourites."

Pogačar's superiority in this year’s race has attracted skepticism from some. His domination in the time trial and the Alpine stages was thorough and conclusive, while his responses to questions relating to his credibility were far from robust or comprehensive. 

During a short and somewhat stunted press conference on Monday, the race leader was asked about his credibility, given the almost untouchable nature of his performances so far.  

"I think we have many controls to prove them wrong," Pogačar said at the time. "I know, for example, that yesterday, I had three controls in one day – two before the stage and one after. So I think that gives enough weight to prove them wrong."

Matxin added that his team leader’s performances were in line with his winning ride last year and that any doubt over his riders were simply a matter of opinion.

"I go back to his numbers from last year – they’re practically the same – and the controls he has to submit. But it’s a matter of opinion and I’m not going to go there," he said. 

Daniel Benson

Editor in Chief - Cyclingnews.