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Tadej Pogačar on Winning Paris-Nice: ‘I still have a little bit to improve. Not too much.’

By Monica Buck

The UAE Team Emirates rider won the Race to the Sun at the first time of asking. And he did so in a stunning manner. In a normally tight race, the second David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) lost 53 seconds overall and Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) sat in third by 1:39. The 24-year-old pro showed everyone that he is the man to beat in the upcoming months.

Tadej Pogačar won the points jersey and the young rider’s jersey, claiming three out of seven stages. The ones he didn’t win? Three went to sprinters and one was lost in a team time trial. In just 13 race days this year, he claimed his eighth and ninth triumph by taking the stage and the overall victory. Ultimately, out of 15 opportunities to win something, he did so in nine cases. Talk about form…

“There are many favourites for the Tour, of course,” he refused the implications of the triumph in regards to the Tour de France. “There is still a long way to go, many races in between. We will see.”

“I was off altitude and this year without altitude in the first months of the season, so I still have a little bit to improve. Not too much. Last year was pretty much the same in Tirreno, so it’s nothing special, it’s just a race. This time, I was better than him [Vingegaard], and we will see in the next races if he can perform and improve.”

It must have been tough for the Danish man to see his rival repeatedly disappear up the road. However, Grischa Niermann, Jumbo-Visma’s directeur sportif, insisted the team was happy with Vingegaard’s performance.
“Last year, Jonas finished second or third in Tirreno, but Pogačar was way better than him, but now he finished third, he gave a good fight this week,” Niermann said on Sunday.

“Pogačar was clearly on a level better this week, but this doesn’t take away that we’re happy with where he is on his form curve. We go to every race to win, we go for victory, but we have to accept that Pogačar was better this week.

“Jonas also wants to win, but he also knows how many races Pogačar has won in the last years, especially in Spring. As soon as we knew he was coming to Paris-Nice, we knew it would be very, very hard, we still came with ambition, but we knew that. Also, we know that Jonas is not in his Tour shape.”

The one man who should be very happy is David Gaudu. The 26-year-old Frenchman finished second and is sure to be closely followed by everyone in France come July.

“Pogačar was stronger, I wasn’t on a good day or at least as good a day as yesterday, but there are no regrets, from today or the whole week,” Gaudu said after the race. “It’s a great result. It’s not every day that you get the chance to stand on the podium at Paris-Nice or any other WorldTour stage race. If you’d offer us this at the start of the race, we’d have taken it.”

Where do you think the trio will stand during the Tour? Or is it too soon to draw conclusions?

General classification after stage seven

1. Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates) – 21:10:50
2. David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) + 12 seconds
3. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) + 58 seconds
4. Simon Yates (Jayco AlUla) + 1:27
5. Gino Mäder (Bahrain-Victorious) + 1:59
6. Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost) + 2:20
7. Romain Bardet (Team DSM) + 2:22
8. Matteo Jorgensen (Movistar) + 2:32
9. Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers) + 3:08
10. Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies) + 3:17