UAE boss vetoes Giro d’Italia-Tour de France double for Tadej Pogačar in 2023
Fernández Matxín: No matter what the 2023 calendar looks like, Pogačar will 'try to win every race he starts' next year.
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There won’t be a run at the Giro d’Italia–Tour de France double for Tadej Pogačar in 2023.
That’s according to UAE Team Emirates sport manager Joxean Fernández Matxín, who says the elusive double is impractical right now for Pogačar.
“The Tour de France is the priority,” Fernández Matxín told Slovenian newspaper Siol. “Next year’s Giro ends just about three weeks before the start of the Tour. Competing in two such races in such a short space of time is a big thing.”
The Giro-Tour double is one of cycling’s most elusive milestones in elite men’s racing. Only seven riders have won both in the same season, with Marco Pantani the last to do it in 1998.
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Pogačar has hinted on several occasions he wants to race the Giro, including most recently after winning Il Lombardia last week in Italy to close out his 2022 campaign.
UAE Team Emirates is being careful to protect Pogačar from going too deep too early in his career and pulled the plug on a planned start at the Vuelta a España this season after Jonas Vingegaard and Jumbo-Visma steamrolled to the yellow jersey in July.
Speaking to the Slovenian paper, Fernández Matxín didn’t close the door entirely on a double attempt, but said it’s something Pogačar could target later in his career.
“My opinion is that at his age, at 24, two grand tours a year is not appropriate,” he said. “If the gap between the Giro and the Tour was five or six weeks, it would be a possibility, but three weeks is too short, it’s complicated. It’s not impossible, but it would have consequences in the future.”
Pogačar put an exclamation point on his 2022 season Saturday by defending his crown at Il Lombardia. Statistically, the 2022 season was Pogačar’s best since turning pro in 2019 even if he didn’t win the Tour.
Pogačar will try to win every race he starts in 2023
Fernández Matxín said the riders and staff will huddle in the United Arab Emirates later this month for a team camp to discuss racing calendars for the team’s growing GC roster that also includes Joâo Almeida, Brandon McNulty, Juan Ayuso, and newcomer Adam Yates.
Fernández Matxín said no matter what Pogačar’s calendar looks like in 2023, the team will line up with the goal of winning every race he starts.
“I have a program in my head for all cyclists. I spoke with Tadej and I have an idea,” he said. “It is important to make the best calendar for all riders to achieve as much as possible. Tadej’s career is important and we look to the future accordingly. It must be understood that we are looking for the possibility that in every race he competes there is a chance for him to win.”
Tadej Pogačar won more UCI WorldTour level races in 2022 than Movistar, Lotto, EF, AG2R, Astana and Cofidis combined.
— Daniel Lloyd (@daniellloyd1) October 11, 2022
Fernández Matxín, who will leave the day-to-day role of sport director to others in 2023, will take over a larger managerial role within the team structure moving forward.
The Spanish sport director said Pogačar is the best rider he’s ever seen in three decades in cycling.
“He’s the most versatile rider I have ever known. On top of that, he has a great character. If I were to rate it on a scale of 10, I would give him a 12,” he said.
“I can say that Tadej is the best in these years,” he said. “He started this season with a win in February and ended it with a win. He is a sprinter, a hill climber, and a specialist in one-day races and three-week races. He’s perfect.”