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UAE Team Emirates team officials confirmed to VeloNews that Pogačar ventured into northern France to preview the final 75km of what will be the decisive stage 5 in this summer’s Tour.
The 23-year-old Pogačar was joined by UAE Team Emirates sport director and former teammate Marco Marcato in the day-long recon ride, and rode part of the treacherous cobblestone sectors in the rain.
The Tour’s stage 5 is already rising alarm bells among the top GC favorites for the yellow jersey.
The 155km route from Lille to Arenberg will feature some 11 sectors of cobblestones, some of them featured in Paris-Roubaix. In total, there are about 20km of rough and bumpy French cobblestones set for the stage course.
The Tour last featured the dangerous — and sometimes controversial — pavé in 2018, when John Degenkolb won the stage.
Pogačar posted some photos on his social media channels, including him smiling on the infamous Trouée d’Arenberg sector.
That immediately raised conjecture whether he might race make a surprise start at Paris-Roubaix later this month.
Officials said the taste of the Roubaix-style cobblestone sectors Monday was strictly for Pogačar’s preparation for what will be a decisive first week in the 2022 Tour.
When asked if he would perhaps race Paris-Roubaix some day, Pogačar didn’t completely discount it.
“I don’t know. Roubaix is really difficult for me,” he said last week. “But you never know. Maybe in a couple of years we can see how the racing is going, or maybe if it changes something, you never know.”
Pogačar has already won two of cycling’s five so-called monuments, and his recent strong showings at both Milan-San Remo and Flanders only raises the prospect that he could join the elite club of winners of all five.
Pogačar will return home this week for a quick respite after a busy and wildly successful spring campaign, capped by victory at Strade Bianche, two stages and the GC overall at Tirreno-Adriatico, and fifth at Milan-San Remo and fourth at Flanders.
Pogačar was smiling in social media images, and seemed to be still buzzing from the dramatic finale in Sunday’s De Ronde.
“Speechless about the atmosphere here at Flanders. I had goosebumps for most of the race,” Pogačar wrote. “Thanks to all my UAE Emirates teammates once again, each rider gave more than 100 percent. Honored to battle it out with Mathieu van der Poel, congrats!”
He will be back in Belgium to race Flèche Wallonne on April 20 and defend his title at Liège-Bastogne-Liège on April 24.
Pogačar also confirmed that he will likely only race the Tour of Slovenia in June ahead of the Tour, where he will be the favorite to win a third straight yellow jersey.
2022 Tour de France stage 5 cobbled sectors:
81km: Villers-au-Tertre to Fressain (1,400m)
98km: Eswars to Paillencourt (1,600m)
104km: Wasnes-au Bac to Marcq-en-Ostrevent (1,400m)
108.5km: Émerchicourt to Monchécourt (1,300m)
111.5km: Monchécourt to Émerchicourt (1,500m)
117km: Abscon (1,600m)
124.5km: Erre to Wandignies-Hamage (2,800m)
131km: Warlaing to Brillon (2,400m)
134.5km: Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes to Sars-et-Rosières (2,400m)
141km: Bousignies to Millonfosse (1,400m)
148km: Hasnon to Wallers (1,600m)
— Rutger Vanseveren (@rutgervseveren) April 4, 2022