Tadej Pogačar's 10th-place finish at Dwars door Vlaanderen today (Wednesday) has proven that he is beatable, with the Slovenian failing to bridge the gap from the chasing group to the leaders despite multiple attempts.
The UAE Team Emirates rider missed the decisive formation of the leading group, which included eventual winner Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), after getting caught in a poor position within the peloton and ultimately losing ground to the Dutchman's attack.
Speaking after the race, Pogačar explained how his multiple efforts to catch the leading group was ultimately in vain, though he didn't seem too disheartened with the performance on his cobbled Classics debut.
"At the key moment there was a crash," Pogačar said. "I had to stay behind and I missed the front group.
"I tried to come back with an effort but they were too strong in the front, too fast. Then we tried again and again, but in the end it was a good race.
"It's racing. I couldn't avoid the crash so I lost a few positions. I should have moved more to the front so on the climb was full gas but I couldn't [catch]."
Had my first real taste of the Belgian cobbles today. Far from easy out there😅Nice to catch up with my good friend and mentor Allan Peiper at the start.Very excited for 'De Ronde' on Sunday ! 😁 pic.twitter.com/nbw8Qjsn0oMarch 30, 2022
Pogačar came into Dwars door Vlaanderen aware of his lack of experience on the cobbles, but says he feels like the race today has helped him learn a lot heading into the Tour of Flanders on Sunday. Pogačar also claimed if today's race is anything to go by, then he is ready for an eventful day at the cobbled Monument on Sunday.
"There were a lot of attacks for an original breakaway, it was a bit hectic," he said. "I got the feeling it was going to be chaotic until the final, and it was. For sure it's going to be something like that on Sunday, or even more."
When asked if he thinks he can win at the weekend, the two-time Tour de France winner seemed sceptical about his chances for victory, though with his ability, anything is possible.
"I don't know," he said. "I wasn't in the front today so I don't know if I can be in front on Sunday."
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Ryan is a staff writer for Cycling Weekly, having joined the team in September 2021. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before making his way to cycling. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer.
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