Tadej Pogacar heads to altitude to reach high peak for Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Giro d'Italia

Tadej Pogacar wins stage 6 of the Volta a Catalunya
Tadej Pogacar wins stage 6 of the Volta a Catalunya (Image credit: Getty Images)

It's difficult to see how he could get any fitter or faster, but after crushing the competition at the Volta a Catalunya, Tadej Pogačar is heading to altitude for more training ahead of his next goals: Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Giro d'Italia.

"I'm going to Sierra Nevada today. I stay there for almost three weeks, and then to Belgium - one week of a little rest, and then after, the preparations for Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the last preparations for the Giro d'Italia itself," Pogačar said according to RTV SLO.

Unlike his Tour de France rivals Jonas Vingegaard (Visma-Lease a Bike), Primož Roglič (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-Quickstep), it will be Pogačar's first intensive altitude camp of the season.

Even without the benefits of altitude training, Pogačar has been nearly unstoppable in his first races of the year. He started his season later because he plans to target both the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France, beginning his year with a victorious 82-kilometre solo breakaway at Strade Bianche.

He followed that up with a sprint podium in Milan-San Remo and the utter domination of the Volta a Catalunya, where he won four of the seven stages and won the overall by minutes.

"This start to the season and the performance shows that I am in great shape and on track for the Giro-Tour. I already confirmed my good form at Strade Bianche and Sanremo, but this was a very different course," Pogačar said of the Volta a Catalunya. "Lots of climbs and descents. The whole week was extraordinary, not only for me but for the whole team."

Pogačar made some changes after another second place at the Tour de France, swapping out coaches and shifting his ambitions to the Grand Tour double.

"I'm in better shape, at least when it comes to feeling good on the bike. I've taken another step forward to enjoy my bike even more, and I go out every day with a smile on my face," Pogačar said. "I don't mind doing intervals. It's not all about the numbers; it's also about feeling really good."

Pogačar stormed into the WorldTour in 2019, winning the Volta ao Algarve, Tour of California and landing a podium in his first Grand Tour at the Vuelta a España. He went on to win back-to-back Tours de France in 2020 and 2021, then started winning Classics. First, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, then Il Lombardia, Strade Bianche, and, last year, the Tour of Flanders, Amstel Gold Race and La Flèche Wallonne.

He will now turn his focus to adding a second title in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and a longer-term goal of winning all of cycling's major one-week stage races. Having already won Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico, he's added the Volta a Catalunya and now needs to win the Tour of Romandie, Tour de Suisse, Itzulia Basque Country and Criterium du Dauphiné to reach that goal.

"Tadej is coming in its best years. He has certainly taken a step forward," his UAE Team Emirates sports director Andrej Hauptman said.

"After Sanremo, we said that we would have a test in Catalunya to see how he would do on the climbs. Tadej was superior - everything according to plan. On the last day, we wanted to win with another rider, but in the end, Tadej had to sprint away from the bunch."

 "It is always necessary to stay focused and look forward - every little thing in cycling can turn things upside down. After every victory, you need to draw a line, forget it and look ahead."

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