Tadej Pogačar: Tour de France 2023 route goes from 'hard' to 'really, really hard'

Two-time champion says he wants to keep attacking, but he'll have to see how other teams race

Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar on the Planche des Belles Filles in the 2022 Tour de France.
(Image credit: Getty)

Sitting attentively in the Palais des Congrès in Paris on Thursday, Tadej Pogačar would have been pleased with what he saw on the big screen, and heard through his translator earpiece.

The 2023 Tour de France route looks like it's one for the climbers, and being one of the best at going uphill in the world, the UAE Team Emirates rider should be licking his lips at the prospect of four summit finishes.

Speaking after the route announcement, the Slovenian said that he liked the parcours that had been laid out in front of him, and that he was already looking forward to next summer. 

"I really like this course," Pogačar said. "The first week is already hard, and the third week is really, really hard, so it's going to be fun. I cannot wait for July.

"It's good that the hardest stages come early in the Tour de France, it makes it so much more interesting."

The race will start on foreign soil for the second year in a row, with a Grand Départ in the Spanish Basque Country, the setting for the race's 120th anniversary. Two hilly stages in Spain then follow, before the peloton crosses the border into France for a stage finish in Bayonne on day three. 

After visiting Pau for the 74th time on stage five, the race's first real mountain test comes on stage six, leaving Tarbes and cresting the Col d’Aspin and Col du Tourmalet before a summit finish in Cauterets. 

Before the first rest day, the riders will wind up to the summit of the Puy de Dôme, a dormant lava dome which hasn’t featured in the Tour for 35 years. This was the sight of the famous Poulidor-Anquetil duel which was played out the dormant volcano's slopes in the 1964 race. 

Asked if he knew much about it, the 24-year-old admitted that he did not - unsurprising consider he was over ten years away from existing the last time the Tour visited.

"I don't know a lot about it," Pogačar said. "But it looks like a  really tough climb. I expect already a tough finish there, a battle for the GC. It looks like a really nice climb. It'll be my first time there."

The hilly time trial on stage 16 will see the Slovenian hope to repeat his success on the final stage of the 2020 Tour, which brought him his first overall victory.

"It looks very interesting, the hilly time trial. I should like it. It's going to be a GC battle on the TT day," he said.

Asked if he would continue with the swashbuckling attacking style which has seen him win two Tours de France, three monuments and countless other races, he said we would have to wait and see.

"We're going to see how the other teams will race, it's still very far from here," Pogačar explained. "We will see the shape. I would love to continue to racing like this, attacking always. At the Tour de France sometimes you need to wait until the final. We will see."

He hinted that he might be back to scout out the course as soon as it is possible: "I will have a bit of rest, but when the snow melts in the Pyrenees and Alps we will hit the recons again."

However, next year will be the first year in three that Pogačar does not go into the race as defending champion. It could be very different. He still believes though, obviously: "This year I'm really motivated to win it again."

We have until July to wait and see if this motivation is enough.

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