Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 26 September 2020

Tadej Pogacar: I can't wait to test myself at Tour de France and help UAE Team Emirates succeed when season restarts

In this week's column, the Slovenian cyclist discusses his excitement at being named for the rescheduled Grand Tour and how he has spent the lockdown

I was thrilled to find out last week that I will be part of the team’s roster who will be heading to Nice in August and racing in the Tour de France.

The Tour de France is the biggest and most well-known race in the world and the pinnacle of any rider’s career. I’m super excited to be in the team and can’t wait to test myself against the best riders in the world at one of the hardest Tours.

We’re now just six weeks away from the start of the revised UCI 2020 race calendar and I am looking forward to getting back to competitive racing. Knowing that I will be racing in the Tour de France means I can finally train with a specific goal in mind.

I am feeling fit and strong and I am happy with the team at the moment. We’ve got a good mix of attributes for our Grand Tour lineups with a balance of climbers, sprinters and stage hunters.

It’s also great for the fans for racing to start again. I hope we can fill the gap that’s been left with no sport and get back to entertaining as many people as possible. The whole team is more motivated than ever with this new calendar.

Since I arrived at UAE Team Emirates, I felt part of the family. I have many friends in the team and there has always been a good atmosphere with the riders and the staff.

That’s also one of the main reasons why I recently renewed my contract with the team until 2024. UAE Team Emirates is a long-term project with some strong sponsors, and I am proud to be part of it. It is also important to have some security for the coming years.

The staff have done an amazing job during the lockdown. A huge amount of work has been done behind the scenes and constant communication has been key in keeping us up to date with news about our races.

I started the season very strong and will be looking to recapture my form in the early races. The first month of the lockdown, I stayed in Monaco and trained inside but when the restrictions were eased in Europe, I moved back to my home country, Slovenia. The situation is much better there as I can train outside and see friends and family.

It is always good to be back where you grew up. It takes be back to when I first started racing as a nine-year-old. I remember my first race; several laps of a 3km loop. I was the youngest of the group but I still managed to win. I really enjoyed it and I fell in love with the sport.

Besides racing I also love to play football with my friends. I played a lot when I was younger but nowadays, I don’t have lots of spare time to play as much as I would like to. In the off-season during the winter I have more time off, so I try to play as much as possible with my friends back home.

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Tadej Pogacar interview: Now is the time for cycling's 'next generation'

Vuelta Espana 2019 - 74th Edition - 9th stage Andorra la Vella - Cortals dÕEncamp 94,4 km - 01/09/2019 - Tadej Pogacar (SLO - UAE - Team Emirates) - photo Luis Angel Gomez/BettiniPhoto©2019
Vuelta Espana 2019 - 74th Edition - 9th stage Andorra la Vella - Cortals dÕEncamp 94,4 km - 01/09/2019 - Tadej Pogacar (SLO - UAE - Team Emirates) - photo Luis Angel Gomez/BettiniPhoto©2019

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Cycling as a sport has really taken off in recent years in Slovenia mainly because of the success of the Slovenian riders in the big races. Before, cycling was never broadcast on TV but it is now becoming more and more popular which is great and makes me happy.

We only have two million citizens in Slovenia so if we do well in any sport it’s a really big thing for the country. After my performance in the Vuelta last year I started to get recognised a bit more, but my life hasn’t changed that drastically. I just have a few more interviews to do every now and then and when I ride my bike in Slovenia people say hello in the street.

I’m really enjoying being at UAE Team Emirates and can’t wait to get back to racing. My favourite races are the longer stage races or tough one day classics like Liège–Bastogne–Liège.

I prefer climbing and really hope one day that I can compete for a big result in a race like Liège–Bastogne–Liège, or the Tour de France.

Updated: June 16, 2020 11:49 AM

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