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I am proud to be a part of UAE Team Emirates, says Tadej Pogacar Filed on July 19, 2021
UAE Team Emirates' rider Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia celebrates his Tour de France victory. (AFP)

Pogacar became the youngest rider in history to defend the Tour de France title

Tadej Pogacar’s magnificent run that saw him become the youngest rider in history to defend the Tour de France title has left the world of cycling lost for words.

Defending the colours of UAE Team Emirates, the Slovenian rider was in a class of his own, winning three stages, including back-to-back gruelling mountain stages, to clinch the 2021 Tour.

No wonder then that Matteo Trentin, UAE Team Emirates rider, recently compared Pogacar to some of world’s greatest sporting icons.

“I think he is one of the few guys you can call special in a sport, like when you see Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi in soccer, (Michael) Jordan, LeBron James or Kobe Bryant in basketball, he’s one of a kind,” Trentin told Khaleej Times after the end of the first week of the Tour with Pogacar taking a comprehensive lead that never came under threat.

“He’s physically, genetically better than us, that’s the thing. You could see that yesterday (Sunday, first week) and the day before (Saturday), everybody was on the limit, but he was still breathing!”

UAE Team Emirates have also offered this gifted 22-year-old rider the ideal conditions to make history.

“Like in every sport, you always see the game or the action, so in cycling also, you always see the race but you never see what’s behind,” Trentin said.

“We have a really good staff, starting from the masseurs, the mechanics, the directors, the doctors and, of course, the team as a whole is like one big family.

“It’s like a big company. Everybody has to do his own part. But you only see the riders, the riders are the product of all these little work (the support staff does) behind.”

Wearing a big smile and the winner’s medal on the podium, Pogacar reflected on his unforgettable triumph on Sunday, saluting the team for the constant support.

“I can’t describe how happy I am to be a part of this family. It melts my heart. I am super happy and proud to be a part of this team and part of this journey. Thank you to all my teammates,” Pogacar said in Paris.

While Trentin said Pogacar has what it takes to become one of the all-time greats, Eddy Merckx, arguably the greatest cyclist in history who was also known as the ‘Cannibal’ for his unmatched hunger for wins, showered the Slovenian with praise.

“Yes, maybe he is the new Cannibal,” said Merckx, the Belgian legend who won five Tour de France titles (1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974) in his glorious career.

At 22, Pogacar has time on his side to break Merckx’s Tour de France record.

But the Slovenian’s immediate aim is to win an Olympic gold in Tokyo for his country.


Rituraj Borkakoty

A big fan of the Argentina national football team, Rituraj generally writes on sports. But he deeply cherishes the time he spent with his favourite musician from Assam, India, for an interview. And he loves to bring human interest stories to Khaleej Times readers.

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