Tadej Pogačar has selected a third consecutive victory at Il Lombardia as his final goal of 2023, insisting that his season has been a success despite fracturing his wrist at Liege-Bastogne-Liege and his second place at the Tour de France behind Jonas Vingegaard.
The UAE Team Emirates will not defend his 2022 victory at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal on Sunday and he has not raced since the World Championships in Glasgow. He revealed to La Gazzetta dello Sport that he will end his season in Italy, riding the Giro dell’Emilia on September 30, the Tre Valli Varesine on 3rd October and then Il Lombardia on Saturday 7th October.
Pogačar dominated il Lombardia in 2021 and 2022 and could join Alfredo Binda and Fausto Coppi as three-time winners of the ‘Race of the Falling Leaves’ near Lake Como.
“Il Lombardia is the motivation I need to train for the final races and end my season on a high. I’ve always loved the end of season Italian Classics,” Pogačar told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Pogačar has dominated the sport in recent years, with only the combined strength of Jumbo-Visma and Jonas Vingegaard able to defeat him at the Tour de France.
His crash at Liege-Bastogne-Liege and scaphoid fracture in his wrist significantly disrupted Pogačar’s training for the Tour de France.
He still tried to take on Vingegaard but lost precious time in the stage 16 time trial in the Alps and eventually cracked on stage 17 to Courchevel. However, he often dominated in the spring and showed his wide range of talents by winning Paris-Nice, the Tour of Flanders, the Amstel Gold Race and Fleche Wallonne. He also finished third in the World Championships road race after battling with Mathieu van der Poel, Wout Van Aert and Mads Pedersen on the testing course around Glasgow.
Vingegaard beat him in July but Pogačar has few regrets and insists he wouldn’t swap his 2023 palmares with the Danish climber. He doesn’t measure his season just by Tour de France victories.
“I’d rather keep what I achieved. There’s only one thing I’d change: my crash at Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Without my fractured wrist, my season would have been perfect,” Pogačar said.
“At first I didn’t think the crash and fracture was that important but now, looking back at my Tour preparation, it had an impact. I had to change things compared to previous years. I started the Tour in great form but I wasn’t ready for all three weeks of racing.