Pogacar aims for the near impossible: Winning both the Giro and Tour, but if anyone could do it.... Cycling

Pogacar aims for the near impossible: Winning both the Giro and Tour, but if anyone could do it....

Pogacar aims for the near impossible: Winning both the Giro and Tour, but if anyone could do it....

Marco Pantani was the very last person to achieve it in 1998. We're talking about winning both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France in the same year. Tadej Pogacar is set to attempt this mission—26 years later—and join an illustrious list. If anyone seems well-equipped, it's the Slovenian star from UAE Team Emirates!

In the span of three days, there were two press moments. One before Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and one after his second victory there. IDLProCycling.com was present at both and recorded various quotes about the Giro-Tour double. The external expectations already place Pogacar as the man to win both Grand Tours, but the UAE leader himself remained quite calm. "I'm in very good shape. I just came from a training camp. We've already focused a lot on the Giro and the Tour. But first, there's Sunday," he said on Friday. "I'm really looking forward to the schedule I'll be tackling. Not too many races, with a nice mix of training and rest."

Choosing to combine the Giro and Tour was Pogacar’s own choice

But why does Pogacar actually choose such an agenda? "Copy-paste is pretty boring, no?" he playfully yet significantly replied, after securing his second victory in La Doyenne on Sunday. "If I did the same thing every year, it might get boring. And there are so many beautiful cycling races, so I want to do as many as possible." This attitude is very characteristic of Pogacar, who has also made successful appearances in races like the Tour of Flanders for similar reasons.

"It was my own idea to do the Giro and Tour," the phenomenon continued, echoing similar sentiments on Sunday. "I actually wanted to do the Giro six years ago if it were up to me. It's time now to combine two grand tours, so we choose the Giro and the Tour. I really love Italian races and Italy as a country. I've been racing there practically all my life, so I'm looking forward to going full out for three weeks. It's also a new experience in a way. After the Giro, I hope for a good rest week to then prepare in good shape for the Tour."

In short, ambition abounds with this all-rounder. "Such a double is a new challenge," he emphasized in this context. "You can only find out if you can do it by actually trying." Pogacar also addressed the rest period between the two grand tours. "Firstly, it's important to finish the Giro feeling good," he explained. "Both physically and mentally. That's very important. You shouldn't be physically destroyed. So first, a good recovery. Maybe a bit longer than usual, because it is after all a three-week race. Then probably a high-altitude training camp, where I'll take it step by step. The body must then return in good form, without much overburn. You shouldn't be cooked."

Pogacar hopes for a swift recovery for Tour contenders Vingegaard and Evenepoel

Then something else that has been discussed a lot in recent weeks: the numerous crashes, which likely mean the strength of the Giro and Tour line-up will be significantly diminished. Maybe no Jonas Vingegaard, maybe no Remco Evenepoel. "I always want to race against the very best," Pogacar said when asked. "Jonas is probably the best climber in the world. He is normally the most dangerous man for the Tour de France. Hopefully, he returns to his old level and can compete again. I hope everyone recovers as quickly as possible for the Tour. It would be nice if those guys could still go to altitude for training. But the clock is indeed ticking. Sometimes the body needs longer to recover than you want, even when the mind is ready. It can sometimes take longer than desired. That of course affects your preparations. And then also your mental state."

About a possible double victory, Pogacar doesn't want to say too much yet. "I'm still far from that double. First, just participate in the Giro. Then I have to try and win it, which is no easy feat, followed by arriving intact at the Tour and trying to win there too. It's a super big job. Let's just take it step by step and not get ahead of ourselves."

After his triumph in Liège, there probably wasn't too big a celebration. "You enjoy some victories a little longer than others. Sometimes you also have to rush somewhere else. Like to sort something out at home. Normal life stuff. It's not that you win and always throw a big party. You have things to do at home and focus on upcoming races. And for me, those are now the Giro and Tour." If indeed everything goes smoothly and Pogacar does the nearly impossible, we might not even be surprised. But let's indeed be surprised. Because what he and fellow-alien Mathieu van der Poel keep doing should not be considered normal. It's impressive, time and time again. Good luck, Tadej!

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