Tadej Pogačar – who was very unlikely to make his Giro d’Italia debut in 2024 – has announced that he will, in fact, make his Giro d’Italia debut next season in a crafty video posted to the race’s social media Sunday afternoon.
For the Slovenian champion, this marks a departure from his established goals of the past four years in which the Tour de France has been his number-one objective. However, that is maybe exactly what he needs after a couple of years that have seen a mix of bad luck and the apparently growing threat from reigning, two-time Tour winner Jonas Vingegaard – and perhaps a deal with RCS …
Pogačar had already indicated that he would race a predominantly Italian campaign in the run-up to the French summer, where Olympic glory is apparently also in his sights, with Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo key goals in early March. He’s also expected to attempt a Tour of Flanders defence at the end of that month, but any return to the Ardennes Classics is thrown into doubt by this news given their proximity to the Italian Grand Tour, not to mention the ill fortune he was served at Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2023.
While it’s fantastic news for Mauro Vegni and the Giro, it’s worrying for anyone anticipating another chapter in the Pogi-Vingegaard saga, not to mention the likes of Geraint Thomas, Simon Yates, Giulio Ciccone, and Nairo Quintana who might have hoped for a pleasant three weeks in Italy devoid of Slovenians and a certain young Belgian.
The 2024 Giro ought to suit Pogačar rather well – it’s the sort of parcours that suits him better than it would, say, Vingegaard, with more punchy climbs than those long, wearing days at altitude where he’s seen campaigns derailed in the past (with the caveat that he came into the 2023 Tour slightly undercooked after breaking his wrist in the spring). There is also a good wedge of time-trial kilometres at the 2024 Giro, and as one of the best GC riders in that discipline, he should work up a decent advantage there over some of his rivals, assuming he’s on winning form.
And that’s the crux of this: winning. Though he comes across as one of the most affable riders in the peloton and has still won a lot in the past couple of seasons, Pogačar is surely smarting slightly at not having won a Grand Tour since 2021, so who can blame him for hunting down a pink jersey on unfamiliar terrain.
The Tour de France now becomes a question for Pogačar and cycling fans. Should the young rider, who’s never raced more than one Grand Tour in a season, let alone the Giro-Tour double, skip the Grande Boucle altogether and instead head for the Vuelta for a more evenly matched duel with his Danish rival?
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