Tadej Pogacar confirmed for Clásica Jaén Paraiso Interior and Vuelta a Andalucia as he opts out of UAE Tour - "Tadej is a rider who likes to keep things fresh"

Tadej Pogacar is making changes to his early-season plan, as the two-time defending champion of the UAE will not return, but will instead focus on the European calendar where he will start competition at the Clásica Jaén Paraiso Interior and the Vuelta a Andalucia.

The news had emerged early in the afternoon that Pogacar would not be racing the UAE Tour, as said by Gazzetta dello Sport, and instigated by a social media post in which the race announced some of it's stars which featured teammate Adam Yates but not the Slovenian.

Pogacar has been ill recently but that has not changed the plan UAE Team Emirates have drawn up. "The preparation has been good," Pogacar said in a press release. "I had a bit of gastroenteritis in January which wasn’t very pleasant but thankfully I’m over it and feeling healthy. It’s nice to experience new races and I’m looking forward to what Jaen and Andalucia have in store for us. I can’t wait to start racing again.”

“I’m excited for these races and to pin on a number again and be with the team. I’ve been watching the first races last weeks on the TV and enjoying it, but also wishing a bit to be there in the action," he continued. As he eyes a large spring with many goals, he looks to delay the start to his main schedule so as to keep the freshness deep into April.

"For Tadej the plan this year was to keep the base of the calendar more or less the same while making a few adjustments, which is what we’ve done," team manager Joxean Matxin said. "Tadej is a rider who likes to keep things fresh and try new things so starting the year here in Jaen and Andalucia made sense. The season will be long so our idea is to build up gradually to the biggest targets.”

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