Remco Evenepoel addressed Tadej Pogacar’s five wins in a week with some humour, but admitted it also provides ‘some motivation’, as he targets overall victory at the UAE Tour.
Pogačar is absent from his ‘home race’ of the UAE Tour and instead has been racking up the victories in Andalusia. His run of five victories in less than a week was impossible to ignore and Evenepoel teased the Slovenian on Instagram, pleading with him to “Stop winning, Thankyou.”
Pogačar sportingly replied: “It’s your turn now.”
The social media exchange was in good fun but Evenepoel told a small group of media, including Cyclingnews, at the UAE Tour that Pogačar dominance at the Vuelta a Andalucia gave him extra motivation.
“It’s a very nice way to open your season, we also have to say the courses there suited him very well. Every stage, every finish was made for him,” Evenepoel suggested.
“Of course you still have to win the races, and even without all his victories, I came here to the UAE with some goals, new objectives. Maybe to go for a stage win and maybe end up on the podium of the GC, which is I think a very fair goal for me this week.”
“It’s always a good stimulus to see another top rider win so easily. You feel okay, it’s now up to us to try and come to his level. It’s not that it’s in my head all day, but it will help to give some motivation for this week’s training and racing.”
Pogačar recognised that compared with four years ago, when as a neo-pro he last raced the UAE Tour. and abandoned half way through because of a crash, he was in a very different place, one that he had no idea that he would attain in the sport.
“I came here with the idea of winning, but that was after three weeks of being a pro and after that race I realised that it was going to be very hard to come back and to try to win it,” he explained.
“To be back after four years away, with a special jersey and a lot of victories to my name, I would never have thought that was going to happen.”
Asked if in that time cycling had become more of a passion or a job, Evenepoel plumped squarely for the former, saying that his attitude had changed with time because “in my early years I saw it too much as a job.”
“I felt obliged to do training, obliged to train like the other guys, but now my racing runs under its own steam. I did 12 days training in Spain recently. The first five days were in the rain and in my first years I’d have refused to do that. But…
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