"Tadej Pogacar is one of the best riders of all time" - Stephen Roche believes Pogacar can emulate him with Giro/Tour/World Championship treble in 2024

Not since Stephen Roche back in 1987 has anyone taken victory at each of the Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and the World Championships. According to the legendary figure in Irish cycling though, Tadej Pogacar could be set to end that wait in 2024.

"Yes, it is more than possible. If it hasn't happened for 37 years, it's not because there weren't the riders to do it, it's the circumstances that weren't right," Roche explains in conversation with Cyclism'Actu following Pogacar's dominant and comprehensive victory at the opening Grand Tour of the year was completed on Sunday afternoon in Rome. "Riders like Indurain, Armstrong, Pantani or Froome could have done it. If you arrive at the World Championships when the course is flat, you are handicapped. But Pogacar is one of the best riders of all time, he goes up, he goes down, he rolls, he sprints. He can do anything."

Before the World Championships however, there is still the small matter of the Tour de France. "I don't think he will arrive too tired at the start of the Tour and his opponents like Vingegaard will undoubtedly miss competition. But anything can happen, it remains open," Roche previews. "We won't know more until the first time trial or the first mountain stage. If I am Pogacar, I would try to make as many gaps as possible in the first week, because the others risk being even stronger in the last week."

In recent years the likes of Chris Froome, Alberto Contador and Tom Dumoulin have all tried to complete the Giro/Tour debut but not since Marco Pantani in 1998 has it been completed. With Roche himself having done the feat in 1987, why does he feel it's been so long since the anyone has managed it? "I think there are a lot of runners who are afraid of doing both. Not just on a physical level, but also on a commercial level, because the sponsors are looking to win the Tour de France at all costs. And everyone knows that the Giro is not a second-rate event, with a very demanding race and course," he answers.

"When you add bad weather, you get tired a lot and you lack freshness on the Tour. This is why in recent years the best riders have mainly focused on the Tour de France," Roche concludes. "Pogacar has already won the Tour twice, but he was beaten the last two years by Vingegaard. He tells himself that he will have trouble facing him. On the other hand, by winning the Giro beforehand, he will have much less pressure. He can also play on this tactically."

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