In the world of professional cycling, where legends are forged on grueling ascents and nail-biting descents, Tadej Pogačar stands on the cusp of etching his name into the annals of history. The defending champion of Il Lombardia, affectionately known as the "Race of the Falling Leaves," is leaving no stone unturned in his quest for a remarkable third consecutive victory in this iconic Monument race.
Should Pogačar triumph in his mission, he will join the exclusive company of Alfredo Binda and Fausto Coppi, illustrious riders who have achieved the extraordinary feat of clinching three consecutive Il Lombardia titles.
Fausto Coppi, in a league of his own, accomplished the awe-inspiring feat of winning this race four times consecutively from 1946 to 1949. In recent days, the world has witnessed Pogačar's relentless commitment to perfection.
A glimpse into his training regimen reveals an impressive six-hour, 190-kilometer ride through challenging terrains, complete with a staggering 3,813 meters of elevation gain. His average speed of 31.7 kilometers per hour showcased his unwavering dedication to pushing his limits.
This arduous journey led him through the picturesque climbing roads of Monaco, his current residence. In a humble and understated manner, the 24-year-old phenom labeled this grueling endeavor as nothing more than a 'coffee ride.'
This penchant for humility echoes in his social media bio, where he describes himself, one of the sport's brightest stars, simply as a 'bike rider.' Just a day before this impressive ride, Pogačar displayed his unrelenting pursuit of excellence by conquering the Col de la Madone Strava KOM.
He shaved another precious second off the record that had been held by Richie Porte since 2016, further underscoring his unwavering commitment to raising the bar in his sport.
Tadej Pogačar's Season Preparation
Pogačar's recent appearances at the Giro della Toscana and Coppa Sabatini yielded admirable fourth and third-place finishes, respectively.
With only the Giro dell'Emilia and Tre Valli Varesine left on his schedule, he is honing his form for the grand finale on October 7, the coveted Il Lombardia. Reflecting on his remarkable performance in the previous season, where he clinched victory at Tre Valli Varesine and nearly grasped the top podium spot at the Giro dell'Emilia, Pogačar signaled his intent and provided a compelling preview of what awaits his rivals in Bergamo.
The route for the 2023 edition of Il Lombardia, recently unveiled, bears a striking resemblance to the 2021 course. Pogačar's dominance in the 2021 race, where only local rider Fausto Masnada could briefly keep pace, sets the stage for another exhilarating showdown in Bergamo.
Having already secured a prestigious victory at the Tour of Flanders earlier this season, Pogačar is now aiming to join the select few who have conquered both Flanders and Lombardia in a single season, a feat achieved only by Rik Van Looy in 1959 and Hennie Kuiper in 1981.
As Pogačar celebrates his 25th birthday today, he carries with him a remarkable list of achievements. Yet, capturing a third Il Lombardia title in 2023 remains a monumental aspiration, especially considering his recent narrow defeat at the Tour de France, where Jonas Vingegaard emerged victorious for the second consecutive year.
While Vingegaard won't be on the start line, Pogačar faces formidable competition from his compatriot and former teammate, Primož Roglič, and the former World Champion, Remco Evenepoel. These challengers are poised to present a formidable obstacle as Pogačar strives to etch his name in the history books of Il Lombardia, the iconic race known for its challenging climbs and dramatic descents.