Tour de France champion Pogacar still has a lot of boxes left to tick

Tadej Pogacar will defend his Tour de France title starting on June 26. — Twitter
Tadej Pogacar will defend his Tour de France title starting on June 26. — Twitter

Paris - The team announced three riders for each of the major three-week races

By James Jose

Published: Mon 18 Jan 2021, 6:29 PM

Last updated: Mon 18 Jan 2021, 9:10 PM

Having won the prestigious Tour de France at 22, one might wonder what more is there for Tadej Pogacar to accomplish. The Grand Tour is undoubtedly the pinnacle of cycling and while the Slovenian has been there and done that with flying colours, the UAE Team Emirates rider still feels he has a lot of boxes left to tick, not least the defence of the Tour itself.

Pogacar, who apart from being the overall winner, also won the young rider classification and the mountains classification to become the only rider to win the three simultaneously, feels that an Olympic medal, World Championship, the One Day Classic Monuments, the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a Espana titles, will sit well in his trophy cabinet in Komenda.

“It is hard to say what exactly are my ambitions now that I’ve won the Tour de France,” Pogacar told the Khaleej Times on Monday.

“For sure there are a lot of races that I would like to compete for the victory like the World Championship, Olympic Games, One Day Classic Monuments, Giro, Vuelta. I think I still have a long career ahead of me and I have time to achieve something more but also when I finish my career, to have a good life with my family,” he added about his life’s ambitions.

Life has been anything but normal for Pogacar ever since he triumphed at the Tour de France last year. “Now, more people stop me on the road, they want to take pictures,” he revealed.

But despite that, he continues to remain grounded. “I don’t feel that much difference. For me, life goes on normally and I do the same things as I did before,” added Pogacar.

And Pogcar did normal things, like every human being does, during the off season. “This year, I was on vacation in Dubai with my girlfriend (cyclist Urska Zigart). Then, we spent some time with the families. I was at home with my parents and with my girlfriend’s parents for a few weeks. So, it was a nice family time during Christmas and New Year. It was quite great to be with the family at home for a while,” he said.

Well rested and refreshed, Pogacar is eager to put his cycling boots on the pedals for next month’s UAE Tour.

With The Santos Tour Down Under and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race cancelled because of the spike in coronavirus cases in Australia, the UAE Tour, scheduled from February 21 to 27, will be the season opener. And Pogacar and the rest of the team are currently undergoing training in Al Ain.

“Last year, I did the UAE Tour for the first time and I came second. This year, it is the same goal, try to win the race. Just try to do my best and see how it will go. I don’t want to put extra pressure on myself. We are preparing and training well and we will see next month how we will race,” Pogacar said.

Pogacar said that it has been a great learning experience to be with a team like UAE Team Emirates, who signed him up from Rog-Ljubljana.

“I joined in 2019 and since then, I feel super comfortable in the team, super good and with the riders, I understand them and we are good friends now, and also with the staff. Everything is professional and at the top level. And I really like it here. The first year was getting to know each other and last year we kind of exploded and took it to the next level. It is a really nice team where you can grow and, in my opinion,, I would say it is one of the best teams in the world,” he said.

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