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SIENA, Italy (VN) – Two Tours de France, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Il Lombardia, Strade Bianche … and the Tour of Flanders?
Tadej Pogačar’s Siena smash at Stade Bianche on Saturday set pulses racing and anticipation soaring ahead of his debut date with the cobbles and climbs of Flanders next month.
It’s going to be a bumpy ride, and one that could be well worth watching after the Slovenian supremo tore through Tuscany this weekend.
“It will be the first time doing Flanders, I am excited to have a new experience,” Pogačar told the media in Siena on Saturday. “It’s a classic and it will be a fight for position … it’s going to be a rough one.”
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Anything looks possible for Pogačar ahead of his double monument date in the coming weeks.
A blitzing ride at Strade made him the first Tour de France champion to win on the sterrati. Could he be the first yellow jersey of his generation to despatch “De Ronde” or smash Milan-San Remo?
The white roads of Strade are totally different from the slow burn attrition of “La Classicissima” or the hurly-burly of Belgium’s bergs.
San Remo comes first in the calendar, and victory on the Via Roma could be in nearer reach after Pogčar ripped to 12th on debut.
“It’s totally different from Strade Bianche, here it’s much more climbing,” Pogačar said of San Remo after his Strade success. “Milan-San Remo is really also a race for the sprinters, I am not a sprinter, it’s going to be a tough and tricky one – tactics will play a big part, if the shape is good we will try to do something.”
But Pogačar won’t be chasing history in an all-in monument quest this spring. A title defense at Tirreno is top of the agenda and anything that comes afterward is a bonus.
Pogačar’s road to the Tour last year traced through victory at the UAE Tour and Tirreno Adriatico, and taking the Tirreno trident for the second year running is priority one as Pogačar pushes toward a historic yellow jersey hat-trick.
“The course is different, it’s a bit different, the TT is at the beginning, there’s no mountain top finish, there are some hard stages,” Pogačar said of next week’s race of two seas. “I think we have a strong team to defend the title but it’s going to be really really tough – we will do our best.”
Strade, Tirreno, San Remo, and Flanders – each race couldn’t be more different, but each could be possible for the boy-wonder of the bunch.