• Tadej Pogacar of UAE Team Emirates on the Tour de France podium on the Champs-Élysées (Getty)Source: Getty
Winning the 2020 Tour de France on his debut, now 22-year-old Tadej Pogačar reflected on the insane end to the campaign that saw him snatch victory in the individual time trial from fellow countryman Primož Roglič.
By
SBS Cycling Central

22 Sep 2020 - 10:28 AM  UPDATED 22 Sep 2020 - 10:37 AM

Turning 22 the day after taking the podium in the yellow jersey after the final stage on the Champs-Élysées, Pogačar thanked everyone involved in his incredible triumph in a post to his Instagram.

And the young Slovenian admitted he was at peace with the possibility of his second-place finish the night before his amazing performance in the time trial that took him to first, in an interview with French newspaper L'Equipe.

"I still don't know where I am. It's crazy," Pogačar said. "“Before the time trial, I thought I was going to finish second and I was happy with that result and the best young rider jersey. The night before, in the parking lot, I’d watched the mechanics prepare a special white bike for me to arrive on the Champs-Élysées."

"But then the time trial turned everything in my life upside down, and everything is still upside down inside me."

“I think the secret of my success is that I started without believing for a single moment that I could win. I was free spirit, I didn’t even have a power meter."

Pogačar wins Tour de France
Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) won the Tour de France on the eve of his 22nd birthday, finishing the traditional final stage on the Champs-Élysées within the main bunch and securing the win.
Pogačar produces legendary performance to seize Tour de France yellow jersey
Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) produced one of the greatest time trial performances in Tour de France history, overhauling a 57-second gap to previous race leader Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) to take the stage win, the mountains jersey and the ultimate prize, the yellow jersey.

Riding behind Roglič, who along with his Jumbo-Visma teammates ruled the race for yellow for 11 consecutive stages, it seemed Pogačar was destined to finish this year's Tour as a young talent who had the potential to win someday, but not immediately.

And while he was devastated after the time trial, the veteran Roglič sought out the younger Slovenian to offer congratulations in an outstanding display of sportsmanship from someone Pogačar had admired and appreciated before riding against him in competition.

"Primož was so dignified. He seemed to be taking defeat well. He was the best the whole Tour and then he just had a bad day,” Pogačar said. “I'm sorry for him but that’s sport. We want to win, we give everything and, unfortunately, he lost the jersey and I'm the one who has it, even though he's one of the greatest riders of the last three years.

Van Aert, Dumoulin shocked as Jumbo lose Tour at final hurdle
On a day where Primož Roglič's Tour de France hopes were dashed by an incredible ride from Tadej Pogačar, the reaction inside the Jumbo-Visma camp of teammates Wout Van Aert and Tom Dumoulin was that of pain and astonishment.
Roglič surrenders yellow after 'giving everything'
Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) was the leader of the Tour into the penultimate stage of the race, but lost the yellow jersey to Slovenian compatriot Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates).

"When Primož joined Jumbo-Visma, I was seventeen and I admired him. I’ve since had the chance to train with him from time to time and then to race against him. And now I’ve beat him... I beat him in the greatest race that exists. It seems so weird."

“Of course, we will continue to ride together sometimes but I imagine it will be very difficult for him to get over. The Jumbo-Visma team had done everything to win the Tour. It’ll be hard for them to accept defeat but Primož is a champion, he will pick himself up and set himself a new challenge."

Pogačar revealed his willingness to constantly attack during the race stems from being smaller than his rivals and that he prefers a more aggressive style of racing, which held him in good stead on the climbing stages throughout the Tour.

“Until I was a junior I was much smaller than my opponents because I developed late. The races were short and intense and so to have a chance of winning, I had to go on the attack all the time. But I almost always failed!” Pogačar said.  

“I didn't have enough strength for the sprints. It was frustrating but I know now that it gave me a lot of mental strength. I never think of giving up, I insist until it works out. That has helped me a lot and it also developed my mental focus and concentration."

“I love to race that way. For me it’s the best way to win.” 

The Tour de France champion now sets his sights on the road race in this year's UCI World Championships, taking place in Imola, Italy and predicted the race would be a tough challenge for him and the rest of the Slovenian team.

“We’ve got a really strong team with Slovenia, so we’ll see what our chances will be in this tough race.”

Watch the UCI World Championships live on SBS, starting from Thursday the 24th of September with the Women's Elite Time trial from 10:40pm AEST on SBS On Demand.