'I think he can do better than me': Eddy Merckx heaps praise on Tadej Pogačar

Belgian legend expects Pogačar to surpass his record in some races

Tadej Pogačar winning Il Lombardia 2021
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Eddy Merckx has said that he believes Tadej Pogačar "can do better than me" as the Slovenian superstar dominates the peloton.

Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) has been called the new Merckx already, much like a number of riders who do consistently well, such as Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck - Quick-Step), but Merckx has had his say.

The Belgian legend was quick to point out that Pogačar has already won two Tours de France at the age of 23, as well as two Monuments. Merckx did not win the Tour until he was 24-years-old.

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Speaking in a piece by Tuttobici, Merckx said: "I have heard many times 'this is the new Merckx' without the conditions being fulfilled, but with Tadej I think we are really there this time - he is 23 and has already won the Tour de France twice, incredible.

"Tadej is only at the beginning of his career, I think he can do better than me in some races. He is 23 years old and has already won the Tour de France twice and 30 races, that is unbelievable. 

"At 24, I had not even won the Tour. He is still at the beginning of his career, but I think he is doing better than me in some races. He is a great champion and we are going to enjoy him for many years to come."

But Pogačar still has a long way to go to get near the incomparable records of Merckx. Five Tours, five Giro d'Italia titles, three World Championships, five Liège-Bastogne-Liège titles, three Paris-Roubaix wins, seven Milan-San Remos, two Il Lombardias, and many more besides in a truly incredible career. 

So far, Pogačar has managed back-to-back Tour wins as well as victory at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Il Lombardia. He has also won Tirreno-Adriatico, UAE Tour, Tour of California, Volta ao Algarve, three stages of the Vuelta a España, and six stages of the Tour in his impressive list of 30 wins. 

Pogačar ended his season at Il Lombardia saying that he was extremely tired after a long year which started in late February and ended on Saturday, October 9. But he is still keen to win more as he sets his sights on the world title and the Giro in the future.

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Tim Bonville-Ginn

Hi, I'm one of Cycling Weekly's content writers for the web team responsible for writing stories on racing, tech, updating evergreen pages as well as the weekly email newsletter. Proud Yorkshireman from the UK's answer to Flanders, Calderdale, go check out the cobbled climbs!

I started watching cycling back in 2010, before all the hype around London 2012 and Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France. In fact, it was Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck's battle in the fog up the Tourmalet on stage 17 of the Tour de France.

It took me a few more years to get into the journalism side of things, but I had a good idea I wanted to get into cycling journalism by the end of year nine at school and started doing voluntary work soon after. This got me a chance to go to the London Six Days, Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Britain to name a few before eventually joining Eurosport's online team while I was at uni, where I studied journalism. Eurosport gave me the opportunity to work at the world championships in Harrogate back in the awful weather.

After various bar jobs, I managed to get my way into Cycling Weekly in late February of 2020 where I mostly write about racing and everything around that as it's what I specialise in but don't be surprised to see my name on other news stories.

When not writing stories for the site, I don't really switch off my cycling side as I watch every race that is televised as well as being a rider myself and a regular user of the game Pro Cycling Manager. Maybe too regular.

My bike is a well used Specialized Tarmac SL4 when out on my local roads back in West Yorkshire as well as in northern Hampshire with the hills and mountains being my preferred terrain.