For some it is a surprise that he is even racing the Tour of Flanders, but Matteo Trentin has said he would not be shocked to see Tadej Pogačar compete at the end of the Tour of Flanders.
Speaking to the media during UAE-Team Emirates' press day on Monday, the Italian puncheur explained: "Until now we haven't seen a proper weak point of Tadej, so I won't be surprised if he can ride through the final of the race. Saying he is going to win Flanders is another story, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him in the final."
Pogačar will ride the Tour of Flanders for the first time in April, the fourth monument that the Slovenian has raced. Last year he won Il Lombardia and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, two of the five monuments. Just three riders have ever won all five across their career - Rik Van Looy, Eddy Merckx, and Roger De Vlaeminck.
Earlier on Monday, he had downplayed his chances at the cobbled classic, saying that Trentin would be the leader at the Belgian race.
The Italian is aiming for a more successful 2022, after he won just one race last year. However, he achieved multiple top tens in one-day races, and hopes for better luck this season.
"Last year was actually in general a good season," Trentin explained. "But what really counts at the end of the year is the victories, so one of the goals is scoring more victories. That's the first thing.
"I was up there in the classics a lot of times, but because of punctures I was off the front and the next goal is to not have any punctures."
"For Paris-Roubaix, to be honest I've never been there in the final," he said.
"I've never been competitive, thinking it could be my day. Somehow Roubaix is something that slips out of my hand, maybe it's just not the right kind of race.
"About Flanders, most of the time I have been working for someone else, especially during my time with Quick Step. Last year was the first year I was actually good and then I got the puncture."
This will be Trentin's second year with UAE-Team Emirates. The Italian spent seven years with various iterations of Quick Step before moving to Mitchelton-Scott, CCC, and then eventually UAE.
He has won stages of all three grand tours along with two editions of Paris-Tours and the European road championships. In 2019 he narrowly missed out in the World Championship road race, finishing second in a sprint to Mads Pedersen.
Trentin insisted that he was far from finished yet, and ambitious to do more in his time in professional cycling.
"If I can win a monument, for sure it's a nice, maybe not end of career, but nice continuing of my career. I'd like to race a little bit more. If I win one this year, it's not the end, I will continue."
The Italian has previously said that the level of the peloton is higher than it ever has been in his decade in the sport, and this is something he thinks will continue.
"I think there is no way back from that, because everyone understands how to train, how to train better," Trentin said. "Maybe we are going to have someone who finds a way to have a peak in a different part of the season and be the best on a certain day, but the level will be super high for the whole season again."
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