Reigning double Tour de France victor, Tadej Pogačar of UAE Team Emirates, found himself engrossed in unveiling the 2024 race’s route despite enjoying a much-earned break. Although absent at the Parisian presentation, his engagement was palpable as the challenging course appealed to his penchant for arduous terrains.
At the tender age of 22, Pogačar donned his second yellow jersey, propelling him into discussions of potentially rivaling Bernard Hinault and Eddy Merckx on the Tour de France's esteemed leaderboard. Yet, the subsequent French Grand Tours saw the Slovenian prodigy face setbacks, largely attributed to the formidable Danish GC contender, Jonas Vingegaard from Jumbo-Visma.
Unveiled on a Wednesday, the 2024 route showcased a distinct divergence from its predecessors, particularly with its riveting individual time trial finish in Nice and an extraordinarily grueling final week. This iteration of the Tour promises nail-biting suspense, poised to keep audiences on edge until the conclusive race against time on the French Riviera’s stage 21.
Pogačar Embraces Challenging Route
Pogačar, in a candid conversation with L'Equipe, expressed his enthusiasm, “The route is captivating. The initial week is notably more challenging than previous years, necessitating peak form right from the start.
The diversity with altitude variations, sprint finishes, and two time trials adds an exhilarating layer. While the mountain stages are standard, the overall layout is very promising, especially the final three days which I believe will be decisive”.
These concluding stages herald the potential for a dramatic shake-up in the general classification, following 18 grueling days of competition. The Tour is set to revisit the Isola 2000 ski station in the southern Alps for the first time since 1993, with back-to-back summit finishes on stages 19 and 20.
Pogačar, now a Monaco resident, might find a semblance of home on these roads, spending countless training hours on them. Despite Vingegaard’s past dominance above 2000m, Pogačar remains a formidable contender.
“It’s a unique finale to the Tour; exceptionally challenging without the usual sprinters’ showdown on Champs-Elysées. The Monaco to Nice time trial is intriguing yet demands unwavering stamina to triumph.
Training on these roads year-round, this Tour holds a special place for me,” he remarked. With memories of besting Vingegaard at this year’s Paris-Nice on the Col de la Couillole, Pogačar is no stranger to these terrains.
However, the preceding stage’s relentless climbs pose a formidable challenge. Vingegaard, present at the route unveiling, was visibly thrilled about the 2024 Tour’s difficulty level. He and Pogačar are poised as next year’s favorites, alongside Primož Roglič, now with Bora-Hansgrohe, and Remco Evenepoel of Soudal-QuickStep.
Pogačar's 2024 calendar remains a subject of speculation, with rumors of a Giro d’Italia debut and aspirations for Olympic gold in Paris. Nevertheless, the allure of reclaiming his Tour de France supremacy is undeniable, marking the 2024 race as a pivotal moment in his illustrious career.