Tadej Pogacar gunning for rare double as 2024 Tour de France looms

Tadej Pogacar celebrating his Giro d'Italia win
Tadej Pogacar celebrating his Giro d'Italia winReuters
Tadej Pogacar (25) will be the man to beat at the Tour de France, which he enters riding a wave of exceptional results this season, while his main rival, defending champion Jonas Vingegaard (27), starts the event having just recovered from serious injuries.

Slovenia's Pogacar, whose domination of the Tour ended when Vingegaard burst into the limelight, won the Giro d'Italia by an impressive margin. The UAE Emirates leader is now looking to become the first rider to claim a Giro-Tour double since Marco Pantani in 1998.

This season so far, Pogacar has won the Liege-Bastogne-Liege Monument classic, the Tour of Catalunya and the Strade Bianche one-day race, basically taking victory in all the races he started apart from Milan-Sanremo, in which he finished third.

The two-time Tour de France champion will also be backed by a formidable team featuring climbers Adam Yates, Pavel Sivakov, Joao Almeida, Marc Soler and Juan Ayuso.

Vingegaard, instead, has had no competitive preparation and his team has been hit by the late withdrawal of his mountain lieutenant, Sepp Kuss, as the Vuelta a España champion continues to recover from a COVID infection.

Danish Vingegaard, who won the last two editions of the Tour, suffered fractures to his collarbone and rib and a collapsed lung in a crash at the Tour of the Basque Country less than three months ago and has not raced since.

"Being fit, is, of course, something else than being in shape or competitive," said his Visma-Lease a Bike Sports Director Merijn Zeeman. "In any case, Jonas is fit. He really worked extremely hard."

The main concern for Vingegaard is that he will need to be competitive from the very outset of the race.

The Tour will be off to an explosive start, with seven categorised climbs in the first stage of the three-week event as the peloton leaves Italy for France in the fourth stage, where the high mountain climbs begin.

The first three stages will be on hilly terrain that look to be treacherous.

"The Tour will be over in three or four days,” Groupama-FDJ manager Marc Madiot predicted, suggesting an early break by Pogacar to pre-empt any challenges.

"Pogacar will break things apart and blow out Vingegaard. In his place, that’s what I’d do to be sure he doesn’t get back on top form."

Pogacar in action during the Giro
Pogacar in action during the GiroReuters

Behind the duo, three-time Vuelta champion Primoz Roglic, who has left Vingegaard's team to join Bora-Hansgrohe, will be hoping to get to the podium for the second time after fellow Slovenian, Pogacar, beat him in the final time trial.

Belgian prodigy Remco Evenepoel will make his Tour de France debut, also looking to secure a podium spot after winning the Tour of Spain in 2022.

The race starts from Florence on Saturday and, for the first time, will not end in Paris. The Tour's final time trial will be held between Monaco and Nice as the French capital gears up for the July 26th to August 11th Olympics.

Briton Mark Cavendish will be one of the main attractions as he bids to beat his record of 34 stage wins that he shares with Belgian great Eddy Merckx, delaying a decision to retire after a crash in last year's Tour for a final season.


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