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The two-time Tour winner promises he will attack at every turn in the closing days of the 2022 Tour with hopes of dislodging the yellow jersey from Jonas Vingegaard.
“I need to attack on every climb and try to make up time,” Pogačar said Monday. “I will give everything. I hope I don’t have any regrets after.
“My legs are feeling good, and I hope to have legs to have an attacking race, from far or not far. I hope for the best,” he said. “I need to go as hard as possible on the climbs and try to gain some time. Each day now is hard, and it’s possible to do that.”
Pogačar starts Tuesday’s 16th stage in second at 2:22 back of Vingegaard, who so far is racing with cool efficiency to check Pogačar’s aggression since the implosion on Col du Granon.
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Pogačar admitted that Vingegaard is proving a challenging rival and the Dane matched his attacks on Alpe d’Huez and Mende.
“I am really far behind with time. We will see, it depends on the legs. If I see an opportunity to attack, I will. For sure there are many chances to try in the next days,” Pogačar said. “It gives me motivation. He is the man to beat. He is super strong. At Alpe d’Huez he was there with me, but if I was more confident or if I dug deeper, I could have taken some time. In Mende, it was a shorter climb, and he was also there on my wheel.
“In three days a lot can happen. We are all getting tired, mentally and physically. You can have a bad day or a good day. It’s going to be an interesting couple of days.”
‘Ineos seems to be racing for podium’
At least now the odds are more even. Both UAE and Jumbo-Visma are down two riders, while Ineos Grenadiers retains all eight of its starters.
Pogačar said he’s not looking too far over his shoulder, and said he thinks Ineos Grenadiers seems intent on racing for the podium.
“It was hard for us when we lost Vegard and George, and now they are more or less in the same situation,” he said of Jumbo-Visma. “If Ineos attacks, it’s better because Jumbo needs to respond as well. Right now, they seem to be racing for the podium and for the team classification, but I am racing my own race, and I am going to try as much as possible.
“Jonas has a 2:22 advantage, so the favorite is Jonas,” he said. “I think still the top-6 riders can make the podium or as we saw even you can crack on one day and lose a lot of time. There are still quite a few riders who can win this race.”
Pogačar said he “loves” both the Alps and the Pyrénées, and he said he must take advantage of the terrain that lies ahead.
“All we have left is the Pyrénées and we have to try to attack every chance we can get,” Pogačar said. “You sprint to the line, it’s a bicycle race. I don’t want to answer in any other way.
“Literally in risk everything, no, because I don’t want to risk everything for a bike race. For sure I will give 100 percent, I will try to win the race,” he insisted. “I will attack and hopefully I push some good watts, and try to take some time. It’s not that it’s going to be the end of the world if I do not arrive in yellow in Paris, because I’ve already been two times the winner.
“Second place with white jersey is still pretty good. I am still thinking about yellow. I am not going to give up and I will give everything until the finish line.”