Tadej Pogačar has said that his wide-ranging focus on races throughout the season, including Monument Classics in the spring and autumn, is “not ideal” in his quest for further Tour de France glory next summer.
In contrast with his main yellow jersey rival Jonas Vingegaard, the Slovenian doesn’t gear his calendar entirely around the July Grand Tour, instead opting to take on races such as the Tour of Flanders, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and the Road World Championships.
Despite winning three major Classics this spring in Flanders, Amstel Gold Race and La Flèche Wallonne, Pogačar eventually came unstuck at the Tour after a battle to regain fitness following a broken wrist sustained in a crash at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
“The Tour is the most important race in cycling. Nothing compares to it. For the sponsors they just want to win the Tour,” Pogačar said in an interview with Flobikes. “Everybody knows it in the whole world, even in non cycling. Other races cannot compare to the Tour.
“Maybe it costs me that I prepare for the Flanders and the Ardennes and Lombardia in the end, and all these kind of races. It’s not ideal but it’s what I like – to race different challenges throughout the year.
“For me, it’s hard to focus just on July because I know I can be good during the first part of the season and also the last part. It’s hard to just focus on the middle part of the season where I know that I don’t like it the most.”
Pogačar also outlined several races he’d like to add to his glittering palmarès, which includes two Tours and five Monuments. The Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España are on his hitlist, as are the rainbow stripes of world champion.
“From now, after my career, I would like to be world champion as well,” he said. “I won a lot of races, big ones, I won more or less all the Monuments that I can win, the Tour de France two times.
“There are three things left for me – the Giro, Vuelta and World Championships. It’s a dream and a challenge. We’ll see in ten years what’s going to be.”
Pogačar, who raced seven Classics through the spring this year while Vingegaard built up to the Tour via four stage races, has said that his 2024 calendar hasn’t yet been worked out.
He said that his UAE Team Emirates team also has to take into account the goals of other riders on the squad but noted that he and team management will get together to work out his season plans soon.
“I have my desires and the team has other things in mind, but I think we’ll slowly come together to a mutual programme. We need some time to really think about it and see what’s possible and what’s not.”
The Tour de France is sure to feature as his biggest goal of 2024, where he’ll once again do battle with Vingegaard – as well as Primož Roglič and Remco Evenepoel – on a course that includes a gravel stage and a final day time trial in Nice in addition to the traditional high mountain meets.
Pogačar said that he likes the recently unveiled parcours of next summer’s race, saying he appreciates the organisers’ efforts to spice up the Tour de France route.
“I actually like this parcours. The designers do a great job every year,” he said. “They try to spice it up with different things, like this year with the gravel and the last stage time trial. They try to spice it up so it’s not always the same.
“But in the end, you always come to the conclusion that it’s three weeks and you need hard and easy stages. Everybody is tired in any case, no matter the parcours. If I would design it then I’d probably do something similar to this year.”
At the age of 25, Pogačar is still improving, he said, though now the improvements are more like small upgrades rather than the big leaps he experienced earlier on in his career. He still has a lot of experience to gain, though, he added.
“I think I’m getting better every year a little bit just based on my feeling, my numbers and I’m more experienced,” he said. “Everything adds up a little bit to be a little bit better. But like this year your body can just turn against you and there’s not much you can do and when that time comes it’s already over.
“There’s still a lot of experience to gain through the next years, for sure. But I can see that slowly it’s getting more tough to improve myself. When I came to the WorldTour, every year and every race I was feeling better and growing and improving.
“But now it’s like you need to find small details to improve something. It’s not coming by itself – it’s hard work for little improvements.”
All copyrights for this article, including images, are reserved to the original source and/or creator(s).