Tadej Pogačar vows to disrupt in UCI world championship road race: ‘We need to do something’

'Van Aert and Van der Poel, those guys you don't drop': Pogačar intent on disrupting the dominant nations seeking a sprint in Wollongong.

Photo: Getty Images

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Tadej Pogačar and his five Slovenian sidekicks will be plotting how to ambush the dominant nations in Sunday’s UCI road world championships road race.

“We need to do something, because those teams will try to play it more safe and calm, and we don’t have a full team,” Pogačar said.

The 23-year-old takes sole command of Team Slovenia for Sunday’s road race after Primož Roglič and Matej Mohorič both stayed home.

The two-time Tour de France champion won’t let a lessened team temper his ambition for his high-priority raid on the rainbow jersey.

“We will see how the riders who are coming feel and we will decide together how we will play it,” Pogačar told reporters Sunday. “We have good riders. There’s only six, but with six riders you can do a lot.”

Also read: Pogačar signals he’s a rainbow jersey contender after beating back Van Aert

Pogačar blazed to sixth in Sunday’s worlds TT in what was just a taster of Australian tarmac ahead of his end-of-season goal in next weekend’s road race.

A road world title has long been in the Slovenian’s scopes, but he’s still yet to score on the world’s stage. Unfortunately for him, the long, attritional Wollongong route looks set for a reduced sprint in a profile that puts Wout van Aert at the top of the bookies’ slip.

Pogačar is as ambitious as ever and will do everything he can to ride into an unlikely rainbow jersey next weekend.

He laughed off the notion of a Strade Bianche-style long-range attack but will be on a mission to make as much mayhem as he can in the marathon distance Wollongong race.

A confidence-booster reduced-sprint victory at GP de Montréal showed the Slovenian he’s got the speed, but he needs the racing to be harder than hard ahead of time.

Pogačar said Sunday he doubts the Mount Pleasant climb that punctuates the Wollongong route will make the difference as climbers of his capacity look to confound the fast-finishers in Sunday’s road race.

“Maybe it’s hard enough,” he said.

“If you consider Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel, those guys you don’t drop. On this parcours it’s impossible almost, but you can make them tired. But you also are tired after 267 K’s, it’s not a lunch ride, it’s a tough day for everybody.”

“The race will not be decided there but we can make some legs tired,” he added.

Also read: Van Aert leaves Canada with rainbow jersey confidence intact

Pogačar will have to play animator Sunday. Top favorites Van Aert, Van der Poel and Michael Matthews have full eight-rider teams to help control the race for a strongman small sprint and won’t be shy in stepping up.

“Did Pogačar say that the Belgians should carry the race? Then all we can do is do that,” Belgian co-captain Remco Evenepoel said. “We have a very strong team. But if the responsibility lies with us, we will certainly take it.”

Worlds road races have the habit of being slow-burn, snoozey affairs.

Expect Pogačar to bring the 2022 race to a rude, early awakening.


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