Pogačar To The Giro

There goes the dream of a fit and fresh Tadej Pogačar taking on Jonas Vingegaard next summer with the news that Pogačar will race the Giro d’Italia in 2024. The pre-race Giro preview here has suddenly got easier but there are more important knock-on effects.

Last summer’s Tour de France was a thriller until it wasn’t, when the Dane blew the doors off the 22km time trial stage to Combloux. Until then Vingegaard and Pogačar seemed inseparable, trading blows in the Pyrenees and Alps. The hope was that if Pogačar could return to the Tour in peak condition he could sustain the challenge to the end, plus we’d have Roglič and Evenepoeland on a tasty course which could go down to the final stage, the Nice time trial. What a dream, eh? Still, it’s probably simplistic to equate Pogačar’s fade in the final week of the Tour to his recovery from injury last year, it could explain it… but equally not.

While Father Christmas is busy with everyone’s requests this week, asking for the top contenders to arrive fully fit at the start of the Tour de France and stay that way for three weeks probably sees an elf filing the request into a tray stacked with demands for a pet unicorn or a date with Taylor Swift. The wish a year was to see Pogačar with an improved team take on Vingegaard, but that didn’t quite happen because of the Liège injury; for 2022 it was to see Egan Bernal build on his Giro win and return as a Tour contender but tragically time trial practice and a parked bus finished that. Over the years it’s rare to get all the contenders together and fully fit, plus with Covid – as easy to catch as a cold, as sapping as bout of ‘flu – now the odds shrink further.

Never mind fate though, the difference here is elective. Fortune hasn’t conspired to slow Pogačar: he and his team have opted to ride the Giro. UAE have said out loud they want to win a grand tour in 2024 and the subtext of this is that trying to dethrone Vingegaard in the Tour is a tall order; plus the likes of João Almeida, Juan Ayuso and others aren’t bankers to win the Giro or Vuelta either. Visma-LAB, Bora-hansgrohe and Soudal-Quicksep will cheer as it boosts their Tour chances.

As of today Pogačar is the five chainring pick to win the Giro given he can ace the time trials, win punchy uphill finishes, will come with a strong team, and in the high mountains his only rival is Vingegaard, plus any cold weather doesn’t worry him. Easy? Of course not but he does make it look simple sometimes. But not easy enough to win the Tour de France, UAE are betting on the Giro and not the Tour. It’s a brave call from the team whose backers crave the top trophy. Still Pogačar to win the Giro looks much more likely, it’s a realistic decision.

The Giro-Tour double?
It can’t be done” says the chorus for good reason but this blog’s refrain over the years is that everyone says this but one day someone will do it and with that more will try. Chris Froome and Tom Dumoulin weren’t far off in 2018 but that can still be a deterrent in a sport where percentage point gains are. Nobody wants to start the Tour de France with a 1% handicap. RCS have lent into this by offering a 2024 Giro route that’s much easier on paper: the average stage length is reduced by 20km and it’s got the least amount of vertical gain since 2010. Everything else being equal Pogačar isn’t going to show up fatigued in Florence, but he will have the Giro card to play if he’s “only” able to make the podium and win stages along the way. He could still win.

There are lots of other knock-on effects. UAE looks like a very congested team for stage races so it’ll be interesting to see who they pick for the Giro and Tour as anyone wanting leadership is left hoping for co-leadership. And staying with Pogačar and the team, does this mean he’s doing Sanremo but won’t be back at the Ronde or out for revenge in Liège? We’ll see but just as riding the Giro impacts results after the race, the build-up before will have to be adjusted too, he’s more likely to be on Teide in April than the Taaienberg.

A further ramification is rival teams reviewing the Giro plans they’ve made in recent weeks. But only so much: can you name the team with a key rider who’d been persuaded not to ride the Tour de France so they could target the Giro instead who now finds a Slovenian roadblock? It’s more these teams had a decent shot at the podium and maybe find the percentage chance reduced given Pogačar’s likely to win.

There’s also the effect on the Giro itself. Pogačar brings stardust to the race, a celebrity and a personality alike and that’s a big draw for audiences, TV and roadside. It’s anecdotal but last May Pogačar was trending on Twitter, as frustrated fans lamented his attacking absence as they waited for a GC rider to make a move. As we saw in Lombardia Pogačar can be the favourite to win and still deliver an exciting performance, there’s a paradox of seeing the same riders win over and over at the moment but the sport doesn’t feel boring because of this. Of course one Sunday in Lombardia is different than three weeks where rivals can quickly be reduced to defending their podium or top-10.

The other knock-on effect is the appeal of the Giro and the business of the sport. Race boss Mauro Vegni has overseen some dull editions of the race, the race has struggled for stars and next year sees Italian authorities showering money on ASO to bring the Tour de France to Italy which has to sting. Now he’s secured a star name for his race. He once let slip he pays appearance fees (on a technical point team management negotiate and bank these, presumably sharing the bulk with the rider on whose appeal the value is derived) and Pogačar won’t have come cheap. The big coup would not only be to have Pogačar win the Giro but Vegni should be praying that he wins the Tour as well because this would open up the double again and tempt more riders in the coming years to the Giro.

Is there a case of “be careful what you wish for” for Vegni and the Giro? The course is easier and a plausible scenario is see Pogačar in the maglia rosa on the opening stage, then consolidate his lead the next day at Oropa. He stay in pink for three weeks unless he and his team can engineer a way to loan the lead. But quickly we’re assuming the only way to get out of the race lead is to gift it. No, let’s not engrave his name on the trophy yet but it does reduce the surprise factor but this is probably more an issue for niche blogs, the wider public will be delighted to see a big name at the race and if he rides away with it, the public salutes a champion; and if he has to fight to the end the contest is better. It’s just a plus for RCS in every sense.

So much for the dream 2024 summer scenario of Vingegaard facing a revenge rematch with a Pogačar in peak form, with Roglič and Evenepoel as well as it’s not yet 2024, more can happen. Still it’s good for the sport if Pogačar races the Giro and he’s still going to do the Tour de France as well, the glutton. The Giro looks all the more exciting for it, at least in anticipation and Giro fans and rivals for the Tour and Ronde alike will cheer this news. And if Santa gets to read this, my new wish is that Jonas Vingegaard does the Giro as well.

85 thoughts on “Pogačar To The Giro”

  1. Potentially Rogla is happiest with this news. Yes he’d still have to beat Vingegard but he has a stronger finishing kick than him, and has a chance of winning now.

    • Honestly cannot see Roglic climbing with Vingegaard at the hardest moments unless he’s injured or is otherwise impaired. Surprised you’d think he could? Although I do agree this helps Rog but he needs both V and P to have issues to win.

  2. “And if Santa gets to read this, my new wish is that Jonas Vingegaard does the Giro as well.”

    Haha. I had basically started typing this out in my mind before I got to your sign off. Totally agree.

    It won’t happen for all sorts of reasons but Vingegaard’s third Tour win would be viewed as diminishing returns for him (unfair but that’s how we judge the absolute elite) – unless he goes toe to toe with Pogacar across the Giro and Tour. It would be great.

      • As great as Pogacar is results have proved he is not head and shoulders above Jonas its the opposite in fact by riding the Giro it may be an admission that he himself knows he cant get the better of Jonas when it comes to pure GC riding and I say this acknowledging that he is the great rider of his generation

        • Then, of course, if Jonas was also convinced of the same, the Dane would be there on the very same start line of the Giro as Michael B, inrng, me and many more, including probably Santa himself, are hoping right now.

        • Conor – I believe wholeheartedly that if Jonas even attempted the same build-up to the TdF in 2023 that Tadej had (even without the broken bone), he never would have won the final Yellow Jersey.

          Tadej is by far the most versatile rider on the planet, and I hope one year he is able to destroy Jonas at the Tour to prove his overall dominance too.

          • Pogacar is the best rider in the world because of his versatility.

            But with or without injury there is currently more evidence to say that Pog cannot match Vingegaard in the high mountains than can – he was dropped on Ventoux in 21, dropped again in 22 and dropped in 23. Each one has mitigating circumstances and I too want to believe he can compete when totally fit but right now on pure evidence you have to say Vingegaard is the better grand tour rider.

            I think Conor makes a good point that this may well be one of the reasons Pog has taken this option as for me there are only four possible reasons;

            1) he doesn’t think he can beat Vin currently
            2) he wants the money
            3) he is genuinely over confident and believes he can do both with a slightly easier Giro course.
            4) he has just let his competitive spirit/ambition get the best of him, which is why we love him so I’m fine with that.

            But I too wish we just had V vs P all guns blazing this year. It’s disappointing.

            Another reason why cyclings calendar is messed up as we should be seeing these riders race each other multiple times a year not once every three years if we’re lucky. We all want it as the comments here show and we could have it with a better organised sport. I expect the luddites will call me crazy but where there’s a will there’s always a way.

          • OLDDAVE – We only ever see Pogacar come into the TdF after a full spring schedule. Has he ever come into the TdF with a purely “normal” build-up? I don’t think so, he is very over ambitious and never prepares purely for only one race – which I think explains why Jonas beats him recently for the yellow.

            But either way, this is a great debate and I can’t wait for a few more years of this!

          • Just a turn of phrase.

            We spent years wishing for a true Tour De France clash between Contador, Froome and others and it never came. Similar in years gone by for a whole host of names. It’s an irregular occurrence in cycling that the fans see the clash they dream of at the years biggest race. Tbh irregular might be a stretch… generational is probably the word!

            Some might say cycling’s joy is the endless wanting and rarely getting… but I think there’s a way the greats of the sport could face off more often at peak or near peak form. As for recent past – it’s a Golden age, we’ve been more lucky than usual, even then:

            We got half fit Pog at TDF last year, following a half fit Vin at Paris Nice the other time they raced.

            We got the one in a blue moon clash in 2022 but the poor tactics from Pog on Granon and strength of Jumbo were mitigating factors in the eyes of some – which I assume is why everyone is desperate for a repeat.

            We got a too youthful Vin in 2021.

            We got a clash in 2020 but it was such a slow burn and surprise maybe we all took it for granted!

            We got a washout in 2019 with the cancelled stage nullifying the race slightly.

            2018 should have again been a clash and I still remain mystified why Dumoulin’s team sent him to the Giro, even if that remains an all time great Giro, unfortunately it meant both Froome and Dumoulin were underpowered come July.

            The hit rate for great clashes between the best riders at the Tour or in cycling generally is just very low. BUT – I am enjoying this era hugely because it’s suddenly shot up with Pog’s versatility making the classics enormously more enjoyable.

          • Pogacar, Van Aert and Van der Poel are 3 of the greatest riders to be around at the same time and they race each other very regularly. Throw in Ganna quite often and also a pretty good rider in Pedersen and I don’t think you can complain at all. Hopefully Evenepeol will put himself into the mix next year a bit more, but only a crash denied us a classic showdown at Liege this year.
            Vingegaard is a pure stage racer who aims to peak once a year, he takes himself out of pretty much every other contest and to be honest I don’t think he’d add much outside of his very specialist specialism!

          • OLDDAVE – Agree, the TdF monster clash rarely works out, but because of that I’ve been enjoying the Monuments, Classics and other battles more and more over the more recent years…

            Eg. in 2023 the TdF battle fizzled, but Worlds was amazing (WVA, VdP, Tadej, Pedersen, Remco). Then Flanders was epic, P-R, Amstel, San Remo (Tadej came 4th). And so on and so on.

            Often the TdF is not as exciting as it could be. But you get many great battles throughout the season.

          • OldDave, as a self-confessed luddite, I’d happily see the TdF moved to August and the Vuelta moved to late-October, when it wouldn’t be so absurdly hot.
            But you try moving the Tour.

    • He is my favourite rider I’ve ever watched already.
      I love him. Even if i agree with INRNG the decision could signal a slightly dry year of grand tours. Until we get the Vuelta rematch with both V/P having crashed out their respective goals.

  3. Aside from potential appearance fees or sponsors wanting a win. It could just be that pogacar wants to win all of the grand tours in his career. And to do that it’s better to start early because no matter how good you are a win is never guaranteed. The sport is littered with riders who made it young and were going to dominate for the next decade but never did. Leave it too late and it may never happen at all.

    I applaud riders who want to ride or win more than just the one big race a year. In the last 20 years we had froome, contodor and nibili who come to mind as riders who won all 3 and seem all the better for it. I hope pogacar can and try’s to emulate them.

    • Absolutely, I think Tadej just wants to win everything, and he never wants a single season to be stale. He has taken Contador and Froome’s ambition to another level – imagine Froome ever winning Flanders?!? HA!

      Nibali is a very solid comparison to Tadej, but he was more limited it seems. Valverde was another solid comparison too – he just loved to race and hated to lose (I’m going to ignore doping in this conversation, please I beg all of you to as well).

      • Yep, I agree. Pogacar is a breath of fresh air. Thank god he doesn’t just live on a volcano and turn up to France in peak condition. He races all year. He might not be able to get the best if Vingegaard in those 3 weeks in July, but he is a far greater cyclist during the other 49.

      • Absolutely, Jonas (no offence to him, obviously he is great) follows the Lance/Froome model and only focuses on one race. It’s a boring formula, and I think the new model of WVA, VdP, Tadej, Remco, Roglic having results all year is far greater.

        I don’t call the current TdF champ automatically the best rider any more. Imagine the required peak of form that gave Tadej 4th at San Remo, Flanders, Amstel win, etc. Could Jonas ever match that? C’mon, no way.

        • I can´t blame a man for concentrating for one thing only when that´s the one thing he can do best, and neither would I blame him for preparing for that one thing the way that works the best for him.
          I think there is something fascinating in going as far as possible in one direction – and one thing I find exciting about GTs is that even if they strongly favor the Froomes and the Vingegaards, they can in the right circumstances and if the dice roll right be won by a rider who isn´t of the same mold.

          I´m pretty sure that if Pogacar was certain that preparing à la Vingegaard gave him an extra edge in July, he would at least consider it. But we are lucky that he isn´t or that he did consider it, but simply couldn´t bring himself to do it!

          Actually I hope that his decision to do the Giro means that he, his coach and his team believe they have found another way to give him that extra edge in July – and that way entails doing the Giro. But I know I could be dreaming. We´ll see!

          PS I´m on record saying that I don´t think Vingegaard is a one-trick pony. Granted we haven´t yet see him perform more than two slightly different versions of that one trick, but I´m still convinced it´s there…

          • Absolutely, I’m not blaming either rider for taking separate approaches. Also, Jonas is clearly a great rider.

            But, right now Pogacar and Jonas have 2 TdF’s – Jonas beat Pogacar twice, but in those two years, Pogacar stacked his TdF build-up with the following:

            ~ 2 full Classics campaigns (Northern AND Ardennes), with the following highlights
            ~ Strade Bianchi
            ~ a 4th AND a win in Flanders
            ~ both a 5th and 4th in San Remo
            ~ a 12th AND a win in Fleche Wallonne
            ~ a win in Amstel
            ~ broken bone in La Doyenne

            Oh, and AFTER the TdF season, Tadej has “only”
            ~ won Lombardia 3 times
            ~ won L-B-L befre his second TdF win, a bronze the year before
            ~ won GP Montreal, Tre Valli,
            ~ raced to bronze in an epic 2023 Worlds RR
            ~ bronze in 2021 Olympics RR

            The list of things Tadej has done on top of 2 TdFs is epic and no offense to Jonas, I can’t see any chance of him matching this.

  4. For me, the interesting thing to see will be who Visma’s GC leader will be. If we take Wout at his word, he’ll be stage hunting, not riding for GC. Jonas is probably unlikely to do the Giro, so will that mean Uijtdebroeks targeting the Giro (as he was initially scheduled to do for Bora)? Could we see Hagenes or Staune-Mittet riding for GC? I’d expect them to send Olaf Kooij to either the Giro, the Vuelta, or both. If so, what does the leadout look like? Maybe Visma don’t send a GC rider to the Giro at all, and just go all-in on stages? Pogačar will be the obvious favorite regardless of what anyone else does, but he’s not invincible. I hope his presence encourages other teams to send stronger squads to try to beat him. Maybe we end up with a much more unpredictable race as a result.

  5. I can’t wait to watch/follow every bit of Tadej’s 2024 season! He is never short of ambition, and always shoots for the stars. You know it’s not possible to win every single one of those races, but he always seems to pull off a) some amazing rides, and b) there’s usually an epic win or two.

    And lastly, we know it’ll be an amazing season, just like his 2023 campaign – he “only” won Lombardia, Flanders, Paris-Nice, Amstel, Fleche, Slovenian National Road AND ITT title, 3 stages of P-N, 3 stages and overall of Andalucia (and points classification), 2 stages of TdF (and white jersey and 2nd on GC), etc.

    Plus, he ONLY finished 4th in San Remo and Bronze in an absolutely epic World Champ race.

    That’s ONE SEASON!!! In my very humble opinion, he is by far the best rider on the planet. None of the guys who beat him in the races mentioned above came close to matching that full list.

    Sorry, I can’t wait for 2024… and he’s only just turned 25.

  6. I’m excited that the Giro should now see Pogačar fighting Geraint Thomas and Ineos. Pogačar is obviously the favourite, but Geraint has unfinished business after last year with Roglic and there was some high drama for the final TT before Geraint imploded. Hopefully some decent battles ahead!

      • Yep, Geraint was a distant 3rd place. Podium while throwing some punches is an excellent result while Vin and Pog are around. I first saw Geraint ride by me on a mountain top finish in 2011 Tour de France when he was 25 years old, I find it inspiring that he’s still podium-quality for Grand Tours over a decade later

    • No offense to Geraint, but even in his prime I don’t think he’s at Pogacar’s level. He’ll be turning 38 during the Giro… sorry, he won’t be competing with Pogacar.

  7. Pleased to see we all know our place… Niche blog for sure!

    Surprised UAE haven’t committed before to the Giro, they originated from an Italian squad, had a very Italian kit list to start with and when they need the performance margins.. went and bought Colnago!

    Even without the Tour, Pogacar could end with a Giro, Olympics, Worlds triple.. such is the nature of the favourable routes for him.. a very good year!

    • There is that Italian connection… but one of the UAE ruling family now owns Colnago and the backers want the big prize of the Tour de France.

      The UAE team set out the Tour squad for July and they’re still throwing everything they’ve got at it: Pogačar, Ayuso, Almeida, Sivakov, A Yates, Soler, Politt and Wellens. You wonder if they need one more bodyguard for the flatter days between them, plus the role of the DS/management is going to be a tough one.

      • “role of the DS/management is going to be a tough one” I think the English expression is,”trying to herd cats!” I hope they have a camera in the car.
        Pogačar, Ayuso, Almeida, A Yates and Soler – all on one team – if the price we have to pay is for Pogacar totally dominating the Giro, then it’s a small price for the entertainment we’ll get at the Tour. UAE must have seen Visma at the Vuelta and thought, “we can do better then that!” Although Visma’s “Three amigos” quickly became two which UAE should remember.
        It seems odd though to try the double next year, but maybe Pogacar wanted to do the Giro and UAE management wanted him at the Tour, so they compromised and he’s doing both.
        Overall, good for the Giro and I believe Pogacar will not find it so easy to win as people think (especially if the weather’s like this years).

        • I’m really skeptical that the announced UAE Tour squad will actually be the one that we see come July. If it is, you’d have to assume that Pog and Ayuso will be leaders, and everybody else works. If not, what’s the strategy? Keep five riders in contention for GC? Who in that team is going to control dangerous breaks going up the road in week 3? It looks cool on paper, but I don’t see it working in practice (unless there is a very clear hierarchy from day one).

        • UAE’s picks are very early, it’d be normal if they make some changes. Ayuso and Almeida can both get their debut at the Tour and with this settle for a support role… but they’ll also be thinking that Pogačar is likely to be back in 2025 and possibly 2026 as the team leader without the Giro and so if anything 2024 is their chance too and they’re not in that settled row of Adam Yates, a good performance will see teams waving big contracts at them. Plenty of time to shine in other stages but grand tour opportunities won’t come up too often.

          • So Ayuso and Almeida will be able to shine? Will they be going for GC or stages? Lose 20 minutes on stage 1 and go for the KOM? Whatever happens it’ll be entertaining and Politt seems to be on for a busy Tour.

  8. I’m happy things are getting a mix up. The last 2 Tours have been Pogacar v Vingegaard. Cycling is much more than just 3 weeks in July. Plus there’s nothing to say something won’t happen to Vingegaard in the meantime and he’ll be at the Tour in top shape anyway.

    • Agree cycling SHOULD be more than 3 wks in July…

      But we all know it’s not.

      My favourite day last year was Flanders. The Vuelta and Giro have regularly been the best grand tours in the last decade but it just doesn’t matter. The absurdity of cycling season and structure means the Tour is and will always be the most important until there’s drastic changes.

      • What do you mean “we all know it’s not”? I pretty much know that cycling goes well beyond the TDF and ASO – in fact, in its different shapes, it’s perfectly able to go, on even in aspects with no connection to ASO and the TDF. The majority of the “global slightly interested audience” is about TDF, sure, but that’s definitely not what makes wheels spin around – save for France and some big budget teams. If the Tour was shut down tomorrow, the Giro would go on all the same. As CX. Or the Classics.

      • Don’t talk for “us”.
        Especially here on this blog a lot of people know very well that cycling is way more than 3 effin weeks in France.
        I couldn’t care less if a Dane wins another TdF like a second coming of Froome as long as I can watch way more exciting races all the other weeks of the year.
        Bring your boring V. to all the races and then we talk if he’s anywhere near the best. Unless that happens, he’s not.

      • It’s like saying football is not more than 4 weeks of World Cup every 4 year, only cause casual uninformed masses only get intersted in the sport during this commercial FIFA clusterf*#.

      • Please leave me out of your “we all” I follow the (top two tiers of) the sport all year round and , indeed, I’m often too busy with life in July to pay more than cursory attention to the TdF. It may be the biggest stage race in the season but it’s still just that: one race.

  9. Pogacar is such a versatile and adaptable rider that it strikes me as a distinct possibility that his thoughts on entering the Giro are that the best training for riding a grand tour for him might be riding a grand tour. He’ll get a Giro corsa that is somewhat less difficult than typically, but perhaps the repeated days in the mountains and rhythm of the Giro prior to the tour will help him adapt better to the Tour than training for one day classics.

    • EXACTLY – I was thinking the same thing. I have a suspicion that he’ll come into the Giro a step or two below his max and use it to build for the TdF.

      His first peak in 2024 will be Milan San Remo, and then he’ll take a step back and rebuild April-June with a second Peak mid-late July.

      Granted, he’s being MASSIVELY ambitious, but that’s the exciting part. As a fan, I love this.

  10. Is this, in part, UAE trying to one-up, equal, or at least do something similarly exciting to Jumbo Visma winning all 3 tours in 2023?

    I’m happy to watch Pogacar race 6+ weeks in 2024. But given his physical issues in the TdF in 2023, this all feels a bit of a stretch.

  11. I commend Pogacar for doing this. Hopefully one side-effect will be to prompt the TdF organisers to produce a more radical (“classics/crosswind” heavy) course for 2025 so he is tempted to go all-in for revenge. On current evidence, too many high altitude, hot, long ascents in the south of France will make it hard for Jonas to be beaten, barring mishap.

  12. Interesting to see people talking about how much better Pogacar is compared to Vingegaard. As I understand it, the Tour de France is the standard for every rider who’s not 75 kg. I’m guessing that Pogi is not happy about being dominated by Vingegaard in 2023, and likely understands that he’s not going to be the favorite for this year either. He has a great chance to win the Giro, but if he really thought he could beat Vingegaard head to head he would make the Tour his top priority.

      • I’m not sure Pogačar thinks this but his team management might not disagree. What’s interesting though is the way UAE are still throwing everything at the Tour, Pogačar might be riding the Giro but their team for the Tour is their A-team, assuming they can get everyone working well together.

        • Don’t you think they want to muddy the waters and try to confuse Jonas who is not the best tactical master, as we could see on the Massif Central stages this year ? Even if he had only one opponent, he seemed lost until he could hear something in his earpiece… If, on some mid-mountain stage with a bit of chaos and a lot of noise around him, Ayuso goes with Soler, I wonder what would be his reaction (if in the same time Soler doesn’t drop Ayuso before to have a big défaillance and finish at 45 mn). Try the same tactic Jumbo used against Pogacar in 2022.
          I think Visma DS will work on protocols all winter to try and cover all the possibilities to have no unexpected situation for their delicate Dane… (On a sidenote, that’s the reason most of cycling fans have a strange feeling to Vingegaard, I think : we more or less guess that without earpieces, mental preparation – even formatting – and datas he wouldn’t maybe have won one single GT).
          Given that Pogacar is doing the Giro, nobody will know his state of form, and it will be one more card they can play : leave a shadow about who is the real leader. More unexpectedness to fight Visma who’s trying to make it disappear. I don’t know if it can work, but I like the idea.

          • “Oh, he only rides to what the earpiece tells him to do” is a very cheap way to sniping at riders who are physically dominant. It is difficult to prove either way unless teams release full recording of their race radios. Even then you only get partial information.

      • I absolutely understand why many people consider Pogi the best cyclist in the world, as I would probably agree. What I don’t get is why so many are so quick to discount Ving DESTROYING the field in the Stage 16 TT and generally being able to ride away from the best riders in the biggest race in the world, then following that up with a Vuelta in which he didn’t win only because he allowed a teammate to win instead. Just because Ving doesn’t choose to race the same races as Pogi we shouldn’t assume that he can’t, and we definitely shouldn’t blow off the head to head record either.
        Perhaps I should have said “if his team thought Pogi could beat Ving in the Tour they would have made it their top priority.” Even though UAE are sending a star-studded group to the Tour, they’re still hedging their bets with Pogi at the Giro. That definitely doesn’t say, “we’re all in to win the Tour” to me.

        • Personally, I discount that performance because it enters the “literally everything can happen” realm, so, as a black swan of sort, one tends to look the other way and avoid asking questions which might bid an answer.
          Re: the Vuelta, we’ll never know but with “no team tactic” (none at all) Rogla wouldn’t have let Vinge getting some free time advantage whike he was asked to mark the rest. Vingegaard looked (obviously) very far from his dominant self seen at the TDF, more a Pa-Ni version.
          The rest of the field fighting for a high GC being quite much poor doesn’t help weighing the rest of races.

          • Glad we can just ignore great performances because it could be a “black swan,” whatever that’s supposed to mean! I hereby declare that Van der Poel’s Worlds was a black swan and I will therefore pretend it didn’t happen! Lolz

          • Ignoring that ITT is the best favour a fan can do to Jonas. Sponsoring struggles ex Jumbo went through were probably partly due to companies not being ready to just push the “ignore” button as we benevolent fans are.

            As for your example re: van der Poel, I guess it just show how far you are from getting the point. Just a couple of hints: an ITT is not like general road racing *and* the distribution of performances (which by the way, as for the previous point, can be quantified much more in a TT) across our “population” is clearly different in the two situations we’re citing.

            Well, I must suppose that while I deliberately look away from that performance and the predicament it implies for the sport, some other fans look at it but just “think away”, so to say…

    • I’m not surprised by casual fans not “understanding” cycling, and I would’t be surprised, either, by some fat new sponsors failing to get it, but I’d be indeed a bit surprised if a pro cyclist didn’t understand the sport up to that point.

      The most interesting battle (or part of a battle) is what happens or is done in order to define the battleground itself (rather than just leaving it up to your adversary; or even, as opposed to allowing your position and the battle you’ll have to fight *to be defined by the battleground*).

      • Excellent comment gabriele! When I started racing bikes I assumed MTB would be more interesting that road racing. I quickly learned it was the opposite, and your point here sums it up perfectly.

      • Gabriele, re: Vingegaard, if you’re accusing him of doping, why don’t you come out and say it? Or are you implying something else? Unless you know something you’re not sharing, you claim to have some knowledge that others don’t and offer nothing but innuendo as proof. Talk about bad for cycling…

  13. I’m not sure the Giro will take that much out of Pog based on the competition we expect him to face. It will effectively be a spirited training ride.

    Ving and Kuss seem able to rack up back to back GTs without issue, and we haven’t seen that from Pog yet but I expect a similar outcome.

    If Pog does come into the tdf as a bit of an underdog among the 4 main contenders, that can only help him imo. Although his team is so ridiculously overpowered it’s hard to see him ever winning a game of poker.

  14. So many here write Vingegaard off as a “Only the tour counts” rider. Yes, we can agree that he is not a total phenomenon like Pogacar. But he has 12 individual wins not counting classifications, from February to September this year – only one of those is from the Tour. He has been winning all year. What more can we reasonably expect from him?

    I think it is beautiful to have a, in the big picture, perhaps lesser rider like Vingegaard who compensates for it with total focus, who can challenge Pogacar in the Tour. Otherwise it would have been a total bore to watch it. I remember thinking in 21′ when Pogacar dominated the tour on the first mountain stage, that this race is going to be boring the next 10 years.

    • I suppose Vingegaard suffers because of comparisons to Pogačar who can target cobbled classics and grand tours, he makes Nibali look picky. But I suspect personality counts a bit here too and the Dane’s still finding his way to deal with the media; a different case but Roglič took his time here too.

      • A funny thing in cycling, but Pog’s popularity was definitely boosted by his two defeats in the Tour by Jonas. Had he won this two editions, he would probably be in less favourable positions. Even Merckx suffered the same fate.

  15. I guess with this, Vingegaard is up for the double three-peat:
    – Winning the Tour in 2024 for the third time in a row
    – Winning three Grand Tours in a row (Tour 24, Vuelta 24 & Giro 25)

  16. Looks like Santa didn’t hear your wish regarding Jonas attending Giro either. Not to be superstitious, but by the count in this post, your wishes are approaching having the power of Pelé’s predictions in football.

  17. “There goes the dream of a fit and fresh Tadej Pogačar taking on Jonas Vingegaard next summer with the news that Pogačar will race the Giro d’Italia in 2024.”
    Two words for you:BOO-HOO! 🙁
    OTOH there’s a breath of fresh air around a guy who is uninterested in being a one-trick-pony every July. IMHO the pasty Dane can win 5 or 6 ’em on the trot but he’ll still just be another boring chrono-bot. W Il Giro!

    • “Often used as an interjection especially in mocking imitation of another’s tears, complaints, unhappiness, etc.”
      That is certainly one way of expressing an opinion…

      Well, in my more pessimistic moments I´m not sure the Giro gained, if it gained at all, as much as the Tour lost.

      Of course, we can all applaud that Pogacar and his team made that choice and winning the Giro will look good on Pogacar´s list of achievements (and his name will look good on the list of Giro winners), but if the price is a less exciting battle for the victory in the two GTs…

      But I´ll (a bit prematurely) raise a glass of whatever puts us cycling fans in an optimistic mood and wish everyone a Happy New Year!

  18. It’s fair to say that at this point, the Tour can only be won by a specialist 100% focused on it. Pog may need to make peace with this fact and temper his ambitions in other places if he wants to win the Tour again (at least with Jonas there). That said, once he gets the Vuelta, Jonas would want to at least bag a Giro at some point. That could be an opening for Pog.

  19. “It’s fair to say that at this point, the Tour can only be won by a specialist 100% focused on it.”
    Despite how many times it’s proven to be false? And each time someone brings one up they’ll say, “Well that was then, this is now”.

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