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The two-time defending Tour de France champion returns to racing Sunday at the Bretagne Classic-Ouest France, and will start the European championships (September 9-12) before chasing the rainbow jersey and the Italian fall classic.
“I took a week off, and went to the beach. Now I am ready to race again,” Pogačar said in a media call Saturday. “It’s the first time I am doing [Plouay], and it will be an honor to race with the national Slovenian team at the world championships.”
Pogačar is still flying high from his brilliant summer, marked by a second yellow jersey at the Tour and bronze in the elite men’s road race in Tokyo.
Despite his skyrocketing profile, Pogačar insists he is still a bike racer at his core.
“People recognize me on the street, but it’s not like I’m a pop star. I’m just a bike rider,” he said. “I enjoy racing my bike. I am living my dream right now. I’m excited to race again.”
The UAE Emirates star said he’s putting a special focus on the European time trial title, where he will lock horns with the likes of Filippo Ganna (Italy) and Remco Evenepoel (Belgium).
“I’ve never put a big focus on a one-day time trial before, and I want to get better at this,” he said. “And I will race the road race at the worlds.”
The rainbow jersey is something that’s so far has eluded the otherwise prolific Pogačar, who never won the world title racing as a junior or U23. His best so far as a pro was 18th in 2019.
The demanding Flanders-styled worlds course ending in Leuven could prove a challenge, but Pogačar insists he will be there.
After the worlds, Pogačar will race Il Lombardia for the first time. After winning Liège-Bastogne-Liège this spring, he will be one of the favorites to add a second monument to his growing trophy case.
“I like to go to different races that I have not raced yet,” Pogačar said. “I’d like to race the Giro and Vuelta, two races I have not won yet. There are a lot of races I can still win.”
Pogačar’s 2022 schedule will be confirmed in the coming months once the route details are revealed for the grand tours.