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Tadej Pogačar - Hungry For More!

Winner of the Tour de France in 2020 and 2021, Tadej Pogačar has had a thunderous start to the 2023 season and clearly wants to reclaim his Tour crown. Everything suggests he has what it takes! ~ By Quentin Finne

I'm going to come back hungry.” Barely off the podium on the Champs-Élysées last July, Tadej Pogačar already appeared to be sharpening his teeth to feed his voracious appetite for success.

Beaten for the first time in his career at the Tour de France, the 24-year old Slovenian isn’t bitter when he talks about finishing second behind Jonas Vingegaard. That result only

feeds his competitive instinct. “In my eyes, my last Tour wasn’t a defeat,” says the 2020 and 2021 champion. “I still won three stages and the best young rider classification. You can’t

be disappointed with a result like that. I’ve never been driven by anger but rather by a huge feeling of desire. I’m even more motivated by the idea of winning a third Tour. Like every

race I enter, I want to win. That’s what keeps me going.”

The UAE Team Emirates rider has learned from his experience of going down with all guns blazing on the slopes of the Col du Granon last season. “Within the team, we’ve obviously analysed things and digested the lessons of the last Tour,” Pogačar confides. “There are small details that sometimes make the difference between first and second place, but there are also elements that you have to accept that you have no control over. Last year, I lost

several teammates during the race due to injury or Covid-19 infection. There were only four of us left on the Champs-Élysées. But I honestly believe that even with a full team it would have been very difficult to beat Jonas. He was simply better than me in the mountains and the time trial, and he rode in a team that didn’t make any mistakes.”

Joxean Fernández Matxin, sports director of the Emirati team, confirms his rider’s analysis: “One of the common tropes in sport is that you learn more in the bad moments than in the good ones. I’m convinced that the last Tour de France made Tadej better. I consider him to be even more complete than a year ago. For example, he has gained tactical maturity and knows that the verdict can go against you at any moment when you’re riding the world’s biggest race. Collectively, we’re always looking to improve and we have recruited Adam Yates to take us to the next level.” It has to be said, the start of the season proved the Basque team manager was right: Tadej Pogačar dominated Paris-Nice, with three stage victories to his name, and won the Tour of Flanders in brilliant fashion.

A native of Basauri, just a few kilometres from Bilbao, Matxin will be even more excited than usual when the race starts in the Basque Country. “I know the route of the first three

stages by heart. I’ve ridden those roads in every direction. Have I asked Tadej to deliver overall victory in this Tour de France that’s so special for me? No, but it would be the best gift for him and our whole team.”


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