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Will he ever get tired?

10/03/2022

Remco Evenepoel had said it several times in recent days: “How to beat Pogačar? You have to hope he gets tired. Perhaps after the Strade Bianche effort… but I doubt that will happen”. Indeed, it hasn’t happened, not yet at least. Tadej himself is struggling to hold off his legs, as shown by yesterday’s totally irrational attack on the flat. Today he seemed to win with a certain nonchalance, limiting himself to containing his opponents on the final climb and setting off an explosive acceleration in the last kilometre. And who knows how much it must have cost him to wait until the last kilometre, he who likes to set the race on fire with plenty of kilometres to go?

The impression is that he is not only unbeatable these days, but also has the best leg ever. Perhaps only in the first week of the Tour de France 2021 did he reach this level. He has now gained even more confidence and probably made yet another upgrade from a physical point of view, but what is certain is that the more time goes by, the easier it seems for him to win. Last year’s Lombardia proved that, if he wants to, he can really do whatever he likes.

Milano-Sanremo will quite likely prove to be the proverbial litmus test. If he were to win that too – which would be his third Monumental Classic after Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Il Lombardia – then it would no longer be utopian to talk about a new Merckx. He would just have to start winning in the sprints, which he can already do in small groups.

Before him, even a prodigy like Remco Evenepoel seems to be downsizing. The great thing is that the two most eagerly awaited stages are still ahead of us, the one with the walls and the finish in Fermo and the one with the double ascent of Carpegna. Needless to say, Pogačar is the favourite for both stages, although Remco, who is used to having the spotlight on him, will want to take it back, ousting the hitherto untouchable Slovenian.

And then there’s Jonas Vingegaard, who has quietly shown more than a few times that he can at least give Tadej a few headaches. Like on Mont Ventoux at last year’s Tour de France, the only time Pogačar failed to follow an opponent in all three weeks of the Grande Boucle. Tomorrow, between Tadej and Remco, he wants to fit in too, less media-friendly, less predestined, but very practical and performing. Let’s enjoy whatever these three have in store for us.

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