Tadej Pogacar is ‘living the cycling dream’
A little less than eight months ago a group of five sprinted to the finish of Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The newly crowned world champion Julian Alaphilippe opened up the sprint, swerving across the road and causing a chain reaction that knocked Tadej Pogacar out of the sprint for victory. On Sunday it was once again Alaphilippe and Pogacar sprinting for the line, and this time the young Tour de France winner came out on top.
“I am without words. I really love this race and to win here like this against these names it’s incredible,” Pogacar said at the finish. “The last sprint I knew that Alaphilippe was going longer and I stayed behind him and I was just lucky that in the end, it was a good wind for me because I was coming from behind and with speed.”
Ardennes week for Pogacar in 2020 didn’t go as planned. After winning the Tour de France and a strong ride at the World Championships he was upset with the way Liège-Bastogne-Liège finished in 2020. After not being able to start La Flèche Wallonne, it looked like 2021 Ardennes week was going to be another disappointing experience, but this victory will eclipse the events of the last week.
Pogacar, now the winner of the biggest race in cycling and a Monument too, was understandably thrilled with the result.
“I am living the cycling dream.”Pogacar at the finish of Liége-Bastogne-Liége
Earlier in the week Pogacar and his UAE-Team Emirates teammates were unable to start La Flèche Wallonne due to a positive coronavirus test before the race. It was a disappointment for the team and Pogacar took to Twitter to express his frustrations.
We all have negative and we don’t start Flèche Wallone.— Tadej Pogačar (@TamauPogi) April 21, 2021
We had false positive yesterday but came three times negative afterwards.
“We were really disappointed we couldn’t start Flèche [Wallonne] because we have really good riders for that race, last years winner Marc [Hirschi], it would be a good opportunity for him also and for other teammates, but we were really motivated for today,” Pogacar said. “We are really happy that today went like this.”
As for what’s next for the now Monument winner, Pogacar will rest before he starts building towards the Tour de France.
Alaphilippe, who finished second on Sunday behind Pogacar, spoke highly of the young riders sprint. “Tadej played it really smart, he launched his sprint from behind and I have no regrets,” Alaphilippe said at the finish. “I didn’t want to go by myself and try, I wanted to be part of that group and I think I launched my sprint quite well. I was in good position. But Pogacar started from behind, bravo to him.”