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Tadej Pogačar ahead of Tour of Flanders debut: ‘I don’t know what to expect’

Two-time Tour de France champion jumps into the deep end at Dwars door Vlaanderen.

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Tadej Pogačar sees his first taste of cobblestone racing this week in what’s both a dress rehearsal for the Tour de France and a chance to broaden his horizons.

The two-time Tour de France winner lined up Wednesday for Dwars door Vlaanderen and will race Sunday at Tour of Flanders.

It’s the first time the Slovenian superstar has hit out in the cobblestone classics.

“I don’t know what to expect. I hope to have good legs and not get lost in the bunch,” he said Wednesday. “Let’s go out there and have some fun.”

Much like Primož Roglič, who raced GP de Denain earlier this month to get a taste of cobbles racing at race speed ahead of the Tour, the UAE Team Emirates captain is branching out.

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Unlike Roglič, however, Pogačar is jumping into the deep end with two races that are at the elite of the Belgian spring calendar.

“It will be an action-packed race and a fast race, so I am looking forward to it,” Pogačar said. “I am no expert to these races, but there are a lot of options to attack from me. No matter what happens, it will be a great new experience.”

With cobbles being featured in the first week of the 2022 Tour, UAE wanted to put Pogačar onto the cobbles at some point this spring.

Pogačar: ‘Let’s go out there and have some fun’

Pogačar lined up Wednesday at Dwars door Vlaanderen. (Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

By choosing such high-profile races as Dwars and Flanders, however, only confirms Pogačar’s growing ambitions.

He’s already won two of cycling’s five monuments and was fifth at Milan-San Remo two weeks ago.

“I was never thinking about the classics too much. I did some on the national team as a junior, but I was never good at it,” he said. “I was not super comfortable in those races. … I try to challenge myself and overcome that and be good at these races.”

Pogačar reconned some of the cobble sectors Tuesday and will venture out again later this week ahead of Sunday’s start at Flanders.

“It’s a really nice welcome and I am looking forward the whole week,” he said. “Let’s go out there and have some fun.”

“We did a nice recon yesterday, but today is going to be different in the bunch,” he added. “We need to wait and see, but if I feel good we can go for it. We need to see how it’s going for the race and be in the front.”

Pogačar’s racing spirit doesn’t mean he’s here just to float around in the bunch.

“I’m here a bit for the Tour, but that’s completely different,” he said. “I really love cycling and I come here to the country that is the home of cycling to do a good race and do these big races. I am excited to do it.”