Tadej Pogačar begins Tour de France preparation, already feeling the pressure

The defending champion has his Tour preparation mapped out.

Don’t miss out on the latest CyclingTips updates.

Jump To Comments

As the Giro d’Italia peloton tackle the slopes of the active volcano Mount Etna, those riders preparing for the Tour de France will also be facing an explosive foe, yet instead of being half a million years old, theirs comes in the form of 23-year-old Tadej Pogačar.

In case anyone thought his focus would have slipped after winning two yellow jerseys in consecutive years, the Slovenian is already preparing to make it a third this summer.

Pogačar has been spending some time in Slovenia in the lull after the Classics and before Tour training really kicks into gear, finding the time to fulfil some sponsorship duties for the Slovenian motorhome company that supports him.

“With compromises and good organisation, everything can be done well,” Pogačar told outlet RTV Slovenia of the jam-packed schedule of a double Tour de France champion. “In the morning, obligations to sponsors, media, then mandatory training or vice versa. Everything can be done, but training is a priority.”

His success, and that of compatriot Primož Roglič, has also transformed cycling culture in their country. “Three years ago there were not many cyclists on these roads but now there are more people on bikes,” Pogačar observed. “Even in bad weather, which you haven’t noticed before. I’m really happy about that.”

After the Tour of Flanders, Pogačar took the opportunity to explore the French cobbles that will feature in stage five, and after his time in Slovenia, the UAE Team Emirates rider will come back west for further reconnaissance missions over this July’s course.

“I am slowly stepping up the training process,” Pogačar explained. “Next weekend I’m going to the Pyrenees to see the stages of this year’s race, then the time trial and then the three stages in the Alps. I’ll be busy before the altitude training, we’re already [focused] on the Tour.”

For the second year in a row, Pogačar will forego the traditional warm-up races for the Grand Boucle, either the Critérium du Dauphiné or the Tour de Suisse, and instead opt for the Tour of Slovenia, as racing will help him “to return to the competitive rhythm, get used to a large group, attacks and a high heart rate.”

While there are still a few weeks to go until the start in Copenhagen, Pogačar can already feel the pressure.

“The pressure for this year’s Tour is already there,” he admitted. “But it gives me extra motivation. I know the people around me believe in me. I’m going to the Tour with an approach so I can repeat again and win the yellow jersey for the third time.”

The main man Pogačar fears? Roglič.

“In every race we have together with Primož, we are competitors for victory,” Pogačar explained. “In the end, it’s often us [two] alone. We drive each other to the finish line, everyone wants to win for their team. It will be the same on the Tour, I am already looking forward to this match-up. There are others – but it is also in my mind that Primož is the most dangerous for me, which makes me happy, because we speak the same language. It is much better to race against him than against anyone else.”

It sounds very much like the Slovenians expect their Tour de France dominance to continue into 2022.

Editors' Picks