Tadej Pogacar column: I am living a dream but Tour de France success must also go to UAE Team Emirates
Tour's history-making champion provides insight into the remarkable penultimate stage and why he is loving life at the team
To be here wearing the yellow jersey of the Tour de France still hasn’t sunk in yet. I’m speechless. I am very proud of this jersey that repays all the efforts made by the team up to this last phenomenal push to put me in yellow. I dreamed of winning this Tour since I was a boy and now it has come true.
I must say that the credit is not only mine, but of all the members of UAE Team Emirates and the sponsors who support us. The preparation this year was all focused on the Tour. It was a long period to prepare and it was well planned by my team - with the training camps, the training schedule during the lockdown, keeping the right mindset.
I came into this Tour in good shape. Unfortunately we lost a couple of teammates along the way, but we didn’t give up, we stayed positive.
The three weeks were just fantastic. Every day we had a great atmosphere and good attitude in the team, and it was a really amazing time. I tried to keep the mind relaxed and go with the flow stage by stage. We kept a good atmosphere on the bus before and after the stages. They kept my mind really focused and not stressed throughout the three weeks, that was really important.
It was quite a different time trial. If someone told me I would be in the position where I was at that day before the Tour, I would never have believed them. We had come here to the Time Trial for a reconnaissance, so I knew what we were going to do and I knew where to accelerate and where to manage the effort: I only had to think about pushing hard from start to finish. During the time trial I felt that I was going strong and this spurred me even more.
I thought beforehand that if I had a good day then probably, I would be close to [race leader Primoz] Roglic. He didn’t have the best day, so I was able to make up the time. I didn’t know that I had won the jersey until after he had crossed the line. I have a lot of respect for him as a rival and a friend. I know he’s disappointed at the moment but I’m sure we will have many great battles in the future.
I still can’t believe that I am the youngest Tour de France winner since 1904 and its first from Slovenia. I had some good years with UAE Team Emirates where I won Tour de l’Avenir in 2018 and capped by three stages victories and a podium at Vuelta a Espana last year.
I feel happy at the moment with my team. Since I arrived at UAE Team Emirates, I felt part of the family. I have many friends in the team and there has always been a good atmosphere with the riders and the staff. That’s also one of the main reasons why I recently renewed my contract with the team until 2024. UAE Team Emirates is a long-term project with some strong sponsors, and I am proud to be part of it.
I want to stay the same: humble, training hard, going to races with the same mindset and keeping up the good work that my team is doing. I need to thank my family, my girlfriend and all our fans in the UAE for supporting me every step of the way. My dream as a cyclist was to participate in the Tour de France, winning it definitely goes further.
Updated: September 22, 2020 09:24 AM