Column: If it all came to Pogacar, Evenepoel would have won the Giro

Mathieu van der Poel won the Tour of Flanders, Tadej Pogacar did not. The Slovenian finished fourth after he was involved in a surplace with Van der Poel for a little too long and was therefore closed in the sprint. Unfortunately, it was all about that afterwards…

Pogacar rode his first Tour of Flanders with the pros and immediately colored the final. Because he has already done that in recent years in his first Vuelta a España, first Tour de France, first Liège-Bastogne-Liège and first Tour of Lombardy, we are all starting to think it is normal. But almost winning immediately on your first Round, that is not possible for many.

Talent Pogacar a blessing and a curse in one

The fact that Pogacar actually drives everywhere from the front is a blessing and a curse for himself. It will feel good in his head that he does not have to be afraid of anything and that his track record is being filled almost on autopilot quickly. On the other hand, cycling fans may find it boring if he keeps winning, he is expected up front in every race he starts and big wins are sometimes checked off by the media as if it were a shopping list.

It is important to continue to emphasize that it is not normal that when you first participate in The round straight to the final. That it is not normal that you remain tactically so patient that you are in the right place at exactly the right time. That it is not normal that you leave the best classic specialists on the explosive cobblestone climbs. And that it is not normal that Pogacar already peaks from the UAE Tour when it is necessary.

It’s very easy to call him a natural, someone who comes to everything. But if that had been the case, would Remco Evenepoel certainly have won the Giro in 2021? Van der Poel had already claimed that rainbow jersey on the road for a long time and Bernal had won the Tour – as predicted – five times. You can be good, but you have to show it again and again. You have to be lucky, but also enforce it to a large extent. You should be able to use the surplus of talent in your legs when needed.

Pogacar gets the story from Van Baarle.

Have respect for the fact that Pogacar participated at all

Pogacar did it again in the Tour of Flanders and really only let himself be eaten in the sprint. If he does that sprint again, he would have entered earlier, which immediately indicates that participating for the first time is so damn difficult. That we have to make a very deep bow that he once again managed to color the final. That we should also respect the fact that he participated at all. How many great GC riders have ridden the Monuments only sporadically in recent years, fearing crashes and their build-up to the Grand Tours?

Pogacar does it all, but in The round it just didn’t work. And, no doubt feeling that the win had been in it, he angrily raised his hand and immediately drove the middle of nowhere and he briefly – totally exaggerated – talked to an unsuspecting Dylan van Baarle. Can it be once? Like Dumoulin once scolded a motard when it had led Roglic to a stage win in the Tour in its wake? Or the thousand other examples of emotion – rightly or wrongly – after a hard and infernal match…

After seeing the images, Pogacar will also have realized that he himself waited too long and that he therefore missed a golden opportunity to win the Tour. “There are still ten chances,” I hear you say. Let’s ask Egan Bernal how he feels about those seven potential Tour titles now that he’s faced death. Pogacar realizes, more than many cycling fans, that he has the momentum, but that it may not last forever. Nothing is as changeable as cycling.

So that’s why one more time: enjoy it while you can, let’s not take Pogacar for granted. Let’s enjoy how he colored the Tour of Flanders, instead of arguing whether he is human or not, and whether or not he can be overly angry for once. Only in this way can we honor the athlete Tadej Pogacar.

Bram van der Ploeg (Twitter: @BvdPloegg † e-mail: b.vanderploeg@indeleidersrui.nl)