Ljubljana – Slovenian cyclist Tadej Pogačar, currently the best in the world, has confirmed that he will be defending his two consecutive Tour de France titles this year and compete in the Vuelta a Espana. He has announced that he could perhaps also appear in another Grand Tour race, the Giro d’Italia, next year.
The race around Spain was also on Pogačar’s calendar last year, but he failed to appear. As for this year, he said that the “chances of participating in the Vuelta are much higher, but not 100%, because noting is 100% sure”.
Speaking at a videoconference on Monday, the 23-year-old said he would be defending his two consecutive titles in the Tour de France, and noted that his UAE Team Emirates had filled up his competitive calendar to the “maximum”.
“I will expectedly have 97 stage starts, including in two Grand Tours. This is not too much, but if you want to be in a good shape in every race, this is a maximum of sorts. I had much fewer starts last year,” Pogačar said.
As for the possibility of appearing in the Giro d’Italia in 2023, he said that “Giro has always been one of my favourite races, it is close to Slovenia, and sometimes it also makes a stop in Slovenia. I really want to race in Italy.”
“However, this is impossible this year. Maybe next year …,” Pogačar said as part of the media availability day of the UAE Team Emirates.
Last year, he also won the Liege-Bastogne-Liege race, the Giro di Lombardia, the Tirreno-Adriatico race, the UAE Tour and the Tour of Slovenia, and became the first Slovenian to win an Olympic medal in cycling.
The first test for Pogačar this year will be the UAE Tour on 20-26 February. “This race is one of the most important for our team. If you want to be among the best in any race, you have to be really in shape,” he said.
Pogačar will be preparing for this race in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Spain, while he feels he is already in a good shape. “I am at a point where I want to be. The shape for January is OK, and there is still some time for practice.”