"This year the double Giro-Tour. Next year maybe Tour-Vuelta" - Tadej Pogacar and his team fully believe in the need for new challenges, amongst them Paris-Roubaix

Tadej Pogacar is certainly an unique rider in the peloton and this year he is taking on a new challenge of racing two consecutive Grand Tours. He is on the verge of winning the Giro d'Italia and at this rate, he may be considered the main favourite for the Tour de France as well. He and UAE Team Emirates talk of a need for new challenges and detail their aproach to the 2024 season.

“Copy-paste is boring. If I were to complete the same calendar every year, I would probably miss an incentive. That's why I want changes in my choice of competition every year," Pogacar said in an interview with RIDE Magazine. "Yes, I need new challenges every year. The double Giro-Tour certainly is. That challenge motivates me enormously.”

“If you race a lot, you sometimes get tired without noticing it. Competing less and training more works for me. I have more structure and notice that I am mentally fresher," he says, having raced only 10 days before the Giro this year, winning a large amount of them including Strade Bianche, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the GC at the Volta a Catalunya alongside four stages. "I get on the bike with more confidence and enjoy it more. After a month without competitions, the hunger is also greater. Maybe not like with a tiger, but if you train a lot and only watch matches on television, the motivation is only greater when you race with a jersey number again.”

It is the work of an incredibly gifted rider but, overall, of a very strong and organized team. “Tadej definitely needs new challenges to stay motivated. Last year we changed a few other races, such as the Ruta del Sol instead of the UAE Tour, which he had already won twice," Joxean Matxin, Pogacar's guide since the months before he joined UAE Team Emirates in 2019, added.

"As well as the choice for Paris-Nice, because he had already won the Tirreno-Adriatico in the two previous years. But the build-up towards the classics and then to the Tour was approximately the same. A completely different approach is stimulating for him.” This strategy seems to have worked to perfection because, counting out the third place at Milano-Sanremo, he has won virtually everything that was in his schedule. Up until today he has also won five stages and is on track to winning his first Giro d'Italia without ever being properly challenged by his rivals.

The Slovenian rider is at 25 years of age but his quality and palmarès are so impressive that he has at this point already began to build a legacy out of his wins. Whilst he has only two Grand Tours (2020 and 2021 Tour de France) under his belt currently, he has already began to win all kinds of World-Tour stage-races, besides winning also all the Ardennes classics and the Tour of Flanders - with three Il Lombardia titles already won consecutively as well.

Pogacar's agent Alex Carrera added: “It is also a motivation for Tadej to win all the important races on the UCI calendar. He wants to have as many different races as possible under his belt. This year the double Giro-Tour. Next year maybe Tour-Vuelta. And write it down: in the second part of his career he will also focus on Paris-Roubaix," he assures.

“After the the Volta a Catalunya he went on an altitude training camp to Sierra Nevada," team manager Mauro Gianetti said. "In all his preparations, much more effort was put into creating a broad basis for scoring in the Grand Tours, which meant that the Classics had to be canceled."

The extra endurance training in no way harmed his explosivity, and he entered the Giro d'Italia firing all cylinders as always. "Only Liège-Bastogne-Liège became a goal. That Ardennes classic has an altitude of 4,260 meters and that fit into the planning. Liège can be seen as an intensive training for the Grand Tour. We then deliberately did not race any more races between Liège and the Giro to keep him as mentally fresh as possible.”

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