Tadej Pogačar says he's almost ready to defend his Tour de France title after winning his home stage race, the Tour of Slovenia, two weeks before he sets off from Brest with the number one on his back.
“It feels great, I have been near the podium in this race four times [before] and I can finally celebrate taking the title," Pogačar said after the race, having finished inside the top five on three occasions previously.
"It was a beautiful week that makes me happy and proud to be able to be here at home in front of all these people. The team has always worked well and we deserved these results, congratulations to all the guys."
Pogačar won stage two to take the overall lead, which he held on to over the remaining three stages, finishing second to team-mate Diego Ulissi on stage four, which saw the Italian also take second place overall with Astana's Matteo Sobrero rounding out the podium.
Ribble Weldtite's James Shaw managed an impressive top-five finish in the general classification, finishing two and a half minutes down on Pogačar, beating the likes of Matej Mohorič (Bahrain-Victorious) and Ilnur Zakarin (Gazprom-RusVelo).
Pogačar defied convention as he chose the Tour of Slovenia for his Tour de France warm-up race instead of the usual Critérium du Dauphiné or Tour de Suisse, while rival Primož Roglič hasn't raced at all.
The 22-year-old defending champion says his condition is improving as he approaches the big target of his season and that he'll be ready for the French Grand Tour starting in Brittany in a fortnight's time.
"My legs are getting better and better and I’m almost ready for the Tour de France. I still have two weeks to prepare myself for what will be my next big goal," he said.
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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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