Tadej Pogacar imperial on the Tour of Italy, make way for the Tour de France

After three weeks flying over the Tour of Italy, Tadej Pogacar arrived as a winner in Rome on Sunday to celebrate his success. The Slovenian can already turn towards his next goal: the Tour de France.

Published on: 05/26/2024 – 7:03 p.m. Modified on: 05/26/2024 – 7:28 p.m.

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Tadej Pogacar won the Tour of Italy at his first attempt, Sunday May 26, at the end of the 21st and final stage in Rome won by Belgian Tim Merlier in a sprint.

Six stage victories, as many as the great Eddy Merckx in 1973, an abysmal lead over his runner-up Daniel Martinez in the general, 9 min 56 sec, the biggest gap since 1965, and an impression of disconcerting ease, at the risk of a certain boredom: the Slovenian dominated the Giro from start to finish, taking the pink jersey on the second day to bring it to the foot of the Colosseum on Sunday.

This triumph from his first Giro adds a new piece to his collection of trophies which is growing day by day: at only 25 years old, the ogre from Komenda already has 77 successes including two Tours de France, six Monuments and a string of other classics and stage races.

The double in sight

More than ever, he is following in the footsteps of Merckx, the greatest runner of all time with whom he shares the same gluttonous appetite.

Belgian Tim Merlier wins the 21st and final stage of the Giro in a sprint on May 26, 2024 in Rome © Luca Bettini, AFP

At the Giro, no one came close to him until the last stage, won by the Belgian Tim Merlier in a sprint.

Daniel Martinez has finally confirmed in a Grand Tour and will be a luxury lieutenant for Primoz Roglic at the Tour de France. Geraint Thomas, a brave third at 38, held on but without the slightest illusion against Pogacar, “the best runner I have raced against and yet I have known some good ones”.

“Tadej? It’s Superman”

Pogacar can now devote himself to the second part of his great challenge: winning the Giro and the Tour de France in the same year, which has not been achieved since Marco Pantani in 1998.

The Giro peloton in front of the Colosseum during the last stage, May 26, 2024 in Rome. © Luca Bettini, AFP

On the other hand, he ruled out participating in the Tour of Spain, preferring to target the World Championships in Zurich at the end of September, another major objective.

“Obviously he can do the Giro-Tour double. He is so strong. I am proud to be his teammate,” said the Austrian Felix Grosschartner. “Tadej? He’s Superman,” summed up Rafal Majka, his loyal lieutenant at UAE.

Some were worried in the run-up to the Tour de France (June 29-July 21) about the state of fatigue of “Pogi” after three weeks scrapping in Italy in sometimes complicated weather conditions.

A priori, there is nothing to fear, because he still looked very fresh on Sunday, dressed all in pink in the streets of Rome.

Certainly he didn’t particularly save himself in Italy – “he can’t help but race”, noted Romain Bardet, 9th overall – and on Saturday evening, Pogacar spoke of “three difficult weeks” where he been a little ill, sometimes slept poorly and had to respond to countless requests.

“It’s insane how talented he is.”

But he also felt he finished “in good shape” and with “morale high” before enjoying a few days of rest, then leaving for an altitude course at Isola 2000.

“This victory at the Giro gives me great momentum for the Tour de France,” he assures.

Of the four “fantastic”, it is clearly he who presents the most guarantees four weeks before the Tour.

Tadej Pogacar’s UAE team (center) during the final stage of the Giro, May 26, 2024 in Rome. © Luca Bettini, AFP

Outgoing double winner, Jonas Vingegaard has just returned to training after his multiple fractures at the Tour of the Basque Country, while Remco Evenepoel and Primoz Roglic, injured in the same fall, will only return to competition next Sunday at the Critérium du Dauphiné.

As it stands, Tadej Pogacar is favorite to become the eighth rider to achieve the Giro-Tour double in the same year (after Marco Pantani (in 1998), Miguel Indurain (1992 and 1993), Stephen Roche (1987), Bernard Hinault ( 1982,1985), Eddy Merckx (1970,1972,1974), Jacques Anquetil (1964) and Fausto Coppi (1949)) and continue his duel from a distance with the legends of the past, under the often powerless gaze of his contemporaries.

“Jonas [Vingegaard] is the only one to evolve at the same level as him, but we have to see how he will be [sur le Tour de France], analyzed Geraint Thomas. It’s insane how talented he is. So versatile, aggressive, all year round. Next to him, we look so slow.”

With AFP

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