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Pogacar ‘good enough’ to win Giro d’Italia and Tour de France

PARIS (AFP) – Runaway Giro d’Italia leader Tadej Pogacar said his current form feels “good enough” to carry him to a rare cycling double as he chases victory in the Italian race and the Tour de France in July.

Only seven riders in cycling’s storied history have achieved the double with Marco Pantani in 1998 the last man to succeed, in the year of Pogacar’s birth.

The 25-year-old Pogacar has won four stages at the ongoing 2024 Giro, and leads second-placed Geraint Thomas by six minutes and 41 seconds with six days racing remaining.

“Let’s get through this Giro first,” the UAE Team Emirates rider told the press on Monday. “I have a strong lead and a strong team, now I need to conserve energy, good pacing and good weather will help,” he said.

Pogacar explained that conventional wisdom suggests that because the two 21-day races are so close together, a rider must go into the Tour de France fresh.

“With my lead as it is, I can race more conservatively in the final week. They all say you need to have good legs coming out of the Giro, and I feel good enough right now.”

Should Pogacar pull off the ambitious feat he will join a list of legends in Fausto Coppi, Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Stephen Roche, Miguel Indurain and Pantani. Described last season by Merckx as being cycling’s most complete rider, Pogacar appears to be on flying form in terms of morale as he looks to make history and even shared some teenage memories of the same ski resort where he achieved Sunday’s landmark crushing win at 2350-metre altitude.

Tadej Pogacar. PHOTO: AFP

“I feel great, this is one of my favourite places. We were here with the Slovenian team when I was junior, when we had little money and rented an old house all together and went to the cheap supermarket in the van, just fantastic memories,” Pogacar said.

“Sunday’s race was a Queen stage so it was a big win, not as big as winning a monument (one of cycling’s big one-day races), but not far.” Asked if the Giro was as big as the Tour, Pogacar was unequivocal.

“No, come on, the biggest race you can win is the Tour de France, right?”

Pogacar then went on to hail the virtues of the Italian tour.

“I dreamed of that pink jersey,” he said of the iconic pink outfit worn by the race leader.

“And hearing your name cheered for 200 kilometres is something wonderfully inspiring, it lifts you beyond your barrier.”

While he refused to take anything for granted, Pogacar was already looking ahead to the Tour.

“I hope to be like the others who did it (won the double), to go there with high morale, chilled out after a good training camp. I think I’m going to be good enough,” he said.