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For the UAE Team Emirates superstar, racing to win is a game, not some sort of personal revenge tour.
Speaking to the Spanish daily El Mundo after racing in a critérium event in Madrid over the weekend, Pogačar spelled out his racing philosophy.
“I don’t believe in revenge,” Pogačar told El Mundo. “This is only sport, just a game. You don’t need to take revenge against anyone. You play and if you lose, you lose. If you win, you win. I always try to be the best, better than everyone else. And I try to get better, but it’s not a revenge.”
Though he didn’t win his third straight yellow jersey, he still finished second overall, and won three stages as well as the young rider’s jersey.
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Pogačar is already looking ahead to 2023 after another spectacular season in the pro ranks that included 16 wins. That’s more wins than in any season since he barnstormed into the pro ranks in 2019.
“It was a great Tour. Finishing second for me was a new experience. I do not accept that it was a loss,” he said. “I also gained some new fans, and I believe I can be happy with how things turned out. I take a lot of positives out of it. It was the best way to lose the Tour.”
Pogačar said he’s not rewriting his blueprint for his Tour preparation. In fact, he insists that he will keep doing what he’s doing.
Madrid Criterium went well 😎.
— Tadej Pogačar (@TamauPogi) December 5, 2022
Pogačar said a return to the spring classics, the Tour, and the worlds will be at the center of his goals. He won’t be racing the Giro d’Italia but left the door open for a return to the Vuelta a España.
“I learned a lot from the Tour. There were some errors, some things I would have done differently, things I could do better, but nothing catastrophic. Just small things,” Pogačar said. “In every race you do there are good things and bad things. In the end, you bring this all together and go into the next race even better prepared. That’s why I believe that for 2023 I can be very, very confident and motivated to be even better than this year.”
After Madrid, Pogacar went straight to a team camp on Spain’s Costa Blanca. His off-season included a trip to Colombia and some wacky social media posts that revealed a personal side to his personality.
“It was a different off-season than others, and I would say that I really relaxed my mind and my body. It was a great break from the bike. And now I am more than ready to start my training for next season.”
For Pogačar, the fun is just beginning.