Tadej Pogacar said Saturday that his Tour de France rivalry with Jonas Vingegaard could grow into something for “the history books”, with the pair sharing the last four titles between them.
Denmark’s Vingegaard has won the race for the past two years, with Slovenian Pogacar claiming the title in both 2020 and 2021.
Pogacar finished as runner-up for both of Vingegaard’s victories and he is looking forward to locking horns with his rival for years to come.
“Our rivalry is more based on Tour de France only, but I think in the future we will meet in the other races as well and have a rivalry that will go in the history books,” Pogacar said in Japan, where he is preparing to race in Sunday’s Saitama Criterium.
“I’m really happy to have such a rival against me, we have great respect for each other.
“We are good for a show for the next couple of years,” he added.
Pogacar has had an eventful year, returning from a fractured wrist to compete at the Tour de France, and becoming just the third man to win Il Lombardia three years in a row.
He also claimed the honours in Paris-Nice, the Fleche Wallonne, the Tour of Flanders and the Amstel Gold Race.
The 25-year-old said he had enjoyed “one of the most incredible seasons” but set his sights on reclaiming the Tour de France title next year.
“I’m pretty confident every year but there are so many things that can go wrong or can go right,” he said.
“You just need to keep faith and never give up because we all work super-hard.
“We all know that we can win it and we just need to fight and fight and play the games and try to win.”
Pogacar will headline a Saitama Criterium field that also includes former Tour de France winners Chris Froome and Egan Bernal, and Vuelta a Espana champion Sepp Kuss.
Slovakia’s Peter Sagan, who is retiring from road racing to return to mountain biking next year, will also compete.
Sagan believes Pogacar and Vingegaard’s rivalry can illuminate the Tour de France for years to come.
“Definitely, the last two, three years we saw that Jonas and Tadej are very strong,” said the 33-year-old.
“In the future, it’s always going to be a nice battle to see in the Tour de France.”
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