Tadej Pogačar's impact on his UAE Team Emirates team-mates: 'He has a vibe that brings everyone peace'

Mikkel Bjerg forms part of the Slovenian's close circle of domestiques

UAE-Team Emirates
(Image credit: Getty)

Tadej Pogačar's perennial success has a transformation effect on his UAE Team Emirates team-mates, according to one of his most trusted domestiques.

The two-time Tour de France champion has begun the 2022 season in terrific form, winning two stages and the overall at the UAE Tour before spectacularly triumphing at Strade Bianche with a long-range solo attack.

Mikkel Bjerg, who like Pogačar is 23, is racing Tirreno-Adriatico alongside the Slovenian this week and told Cycling Weekly that being entrusted to support Pogačar aids personal motivation.

"Tadej is a really cool person - he's always so laid back. On the bus after Strade, he was just so chilled. It wasn't like he didn't care what he'd just done, but that's how relaxed he is.

"He has this vibe around him that brings everyone peace, and that helps us all to perform to our best.

"All the guys are motivated by him being so strong at this level, and it brings something to the whole team. It's like, 'f**k, if he can do that', then it gives motivation to everyone.

"Even the climbers, that whole group is being pushed in a good direction, realising that, yes, everything's possible. 'What if I do this, or if I improve on this'. 

"It's a pleasure to race with him and we ride with less pressure. You look at the group success this season so far, I think it's 14 wins already [ed - 13 wins]."

The team strengthened strongly in the off-season bringing in George Bennett, João Almeida and Marc Soler, three riders who have all led Grand Tour teams in the past and could form part of Pogačar's support team at July's Tour.

Bjerg, a three-time U23 time trial world champion, was part of the winning Tour team in 2021, and he admits that he faces a battle to be selected once again.

"I get to be team-mates with some of the greatest cyclists ever," the Dane added. "I just have to deliver at a high level to give ourselves a chance of winning. 

>>> Tadej Pogačar is a 'Campionissimo' says Eddy Merckx

"Tadej is wnning so it makes me want to win, but it's not like I feel I need to win. There's seven guys in a team, and six of us aren't going to win, so if he's winning it's great for all of us.

"We all just need to do our best and the team will select the best guys for the Tour - I have confidence they'll bring the right guys."

Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Chris Marshall-Bell

Chris first started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2013 on work experience and has since become a regular name in the magazine and on the website. Reporting from races, long interviews with riders from the peloton and riding features drive his love of writing about all things two wheels.

Probably a bit too obsessed with mountains, he was previously found playing and guiding in the Canadian Rockies, and now mostly lives in the Val d’Aran in the Spanish Pyrenees where he’s a ski instructor in the winter and cycling guide in the summer. He almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains.