Tadej Pogačar in High Hopes Heading into 2024 Tour de France

Tadej Pogačar of Slovenia and UAE-Team Emirates yellow leader jersey at arrival during the 108th Tour de France 2021, Stage 16 a 169km stage from Pas de la Casa to Saint-Gaudens / @LeTour / #TDF2021 / on July 13, 2021 in Saint-Gaudens, France. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

2024 Giro d’Italia winner and former double Tour de France champion Tadej Pogačar is in prime condition, declaring he has “never felt so good on the bike.” In his first interview since his Giro triumph, the UAE Team Emirates rider provided an upbeat analysis of his current form as he heads into his second Grand Tour of the season.

“I’ve made a step forward since the Giro, and my shape is even better than what I expected,” Pogačar said in the interview, published on UAE’s team website. “I’ve done some good training, and I’ve tested my legs a little bit and to be honest, I have never felt so good on the bike. I’m really looking forward to seeing if I have improved in the race situations from the Giro, but I feel good so I cannot complain!”

Post-Giro Training Regime

After his Giro victory, Pogačar spent a week doing easy rides before intensifying his training. Although he hasn’t raced since, he has been at an altitude training camp, preparing meticulously for his fifth successive Tour de France.

The build-up for this year’s Tour is markedly different from 2023. Last year, Pogačar broke his wrist during Liège-Bastogne-Liège, which heavily impacted his Tour preparation. “No-one prepares like that for the Tour if they’re not injured and so many things around me didn’t go well after the crash in Liege. I saw who was there to help me and who was not,” he said.

“There was some disappointment and negative energy around and it all built up to the Tour de France. I wasn’t 100% confident. There was going to be a moment where it all built up and I was going to crack and it was probably the time trial in Combloux” – where Pogačar suffered a significant defeat by Jonas Vingegaard.

“After that time trial, I completely shut down, there was no coming back. Also, after the Tour I had the World Championships, nothing went right for me” -despite which he still took a bronze medal in the road race – “and I had a tough moment. Luckily I could recover and finish the season well.”

Looking at the Competition

Pogačar expects Jonas Vingegaard to be in good shape for the Tour, despite his injuries from the Itzulia Basque Country and a long recovery period. He also anticipates fierce competition from Remco Evenepoel and Primož Roglič.

“Jonas was really injured, really hard, but I think he’s going to be fine. I think Jonas will be prepared and if he’s strong mentally and has recovered well then of course, I think we should be ready to see him at his best,” Pogačar said.

“We saw with Remco and Primož that they were in really good shape at the [Critérium du] Dauphiné, maybe with Remco it was a little too soon to be flying 100% but Primož” – who won the race outright – “was in really good form. I think they are all going to be at a top level at the Tour. I do think it will be a really competitive Tour, but you never know how your opponents are. Our bodies are unpredictable, last year I thought I was 100% but one day I was super good, and one day I was not ready.”

Future Ambitions

Looking beyond the Tour de France, Pogačar confirmed he will not participate in the Vuelta a España. However, he has set his sights on the World Championships in Zurich as his last major target of the season. “Last year I was third in the World Championships, and I would like to give it a go again,” he added. “I really like the course this year, Switzerland is a nice country, and it should be good roads and nice small climbs, it’ll be a tough race. To have the rainbow jersey would be a dream.”

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