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Bernard Hinault: ‘Pogačar is like me and Merckx”

Derek Gee showed us why the Giro and the Tour need to bring something very special back

Bernard Hinault has weighed in on one of the most exciting riders in pro cycling right now, Tadej Pogačar. Bernard Hinault is a big fan of the Slovenian’s dominance in the Giro d’Italia, with the five-time Tour de France champion convinced that that he can take no prisoners as he aims for the Giro-Tour double. Hinault was exactly that when he achieved the Giro d’Italia-Tour de France double in 1982 and 1985. When he did, he joined the ranks of Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, and Miguel Indurain as five-time Tour de France winners.

Plus ça change?

Pogačar represents a different era, characterized by a perhaps more relaxed demeanour yet a comparable hunger for success on the racecourse. “Pogačar is like me and Merckx,” Hinault said to La Gazzetta dello Sport. “We belong to different generations, but I appreciate his character and competitive spirit. He’s a natural-born racer. In every race, his goal is victory. He may not always achieve it, but that’s beside the point. I admire his attitude. He truly resembles me and Eddy.”

Lots of racing left at the Giro

Currently, Pogačar dominates the Giro d’Italia, with three stage wins, leading Dani Martínez (Bora-Hansgrohe) by 2:40 and Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) by 2:58. While he contemplates adjusting his racing style to conserve energy for the Giro-Tour endeavor and to support his team during mountain stages, he still wants to bring it on.
“He might consider dialing back his aggression in the third week, but he’s raced sparingly in the early season,” Hinault said. “He has the potential to achieve the Grand Tour double. With uncertainties about Jonas Vingegaard’s form, Pogačar stands a significant chance to etch his name in history.”

Hinault, just like Merckx, never hesitated to push his limits on the road and seldom offered concessions to his rivals or the peloton at large. The Frenchman quite enjoys Pogačar’s similar drive for success. “It’s no surprise that he’s been eager to keep winning in the Giro thus far. I imagine he will have the pink jersey in Rome,” Hinault said. “Why should he relinquish any advantages? I doubt anyone would show him mercy if they were in his position. He’s seizing the moment of success and relishing it. If victory is within reach, he must seize it. That’s the essence of sport.”

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