Tadej Pogačar admitted to having mixed feelings when he beat compatriot Primož Roglič to the overall victory in the Tour de France. In an interview with The team, the UAE Team Emirates driver also acknowledged that all Tour winners have to live with suspicion because of the history of the sport.
Roglič led the Tour for 10 days, but Pogačar considerably stripped him of the yellow jersey on the penultimate stage by winning the time trial at La Planche des Belles Filles. Pogačar, who has supported Roglič throughout his career, paid tribute to his magnanimity on arrival.
“I was a Roglič fan since his first results. Between 15 and 20 years old, I was screaming in front of my television for him to win, and now it was I who had beaten him, who had refused him to achieve what he had dreamed of for years… It was really strange. I kept telling myself: “It’s racing, it’s sport, it’s normal that I want to win”. ”
The permanent image of the afternoon was that of the beaten Roglič interrupting Pogačar’s first post-stage interview to offer his congratulations.
“In fact, it was Primož who managed to calm me down,” said Pogačar. “A few minutes after I finished, I was in the TV tent and he came to me and hugged me. I’ll never forget that moment… It’s like he’s giving me permission to enjoy it and telling me it wasn’t. It’s my fault. ”
Pogačar knew that many fans in Slovenia were hoping Roglič would win the Tour. “They were a bit like me, they would have preferred Primož to win,” he said. “I realized it, I saw it on social networks, they told me. But what can I do? Nothing. ”
The two riders are based in Monaco and sometimes train together. “If we meet by chance [while out training], then one of us turns around and we continue together, ”Pogačar said. He’s a nice guy. He doesn’t like to put himself forward. I often speak with him in the races. To me, he’s not like a rival. ”
Pogačar was still a day before his 22nd birthday when he walked down the Champs-Élysées in the yellow jersey. He said The team that he knew that his youth and the manner of his victory had led some to regard his triumph with skepticism.
“Everyone who wins the Tour is suspect and it is because of the past of some of them. This is the history of cycling: there have been so many cases that it’s hard for people to believe, ”said Pogačar.
“We still need some time to get out of this and earn respect again. We have to live with it. We don’t talk about it among ourselves. We focus on what we do: try to be one of the best teams in the world. the world, find the best material, improve everything we can. ”
When asked if he was aware of the doping history of professional cycling before entering the professional peloton, Pogačar replied: “Yes, when I was young. [..] everyone has talked about it a lot. At the club, every year we had to sign a charter saying that we would never dope. I signed this for a decade.
“Last June I watched the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary on Lance Armstrong. I discovered where all this could lead someone. Today I have the feeling that doping has decreased a lot in cycling. ”