Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) will race the Giro d’Italia for the first time in 2024, race organizers RCS have announced.
The Slovenian’s decision all but guarantees he will attempt to become the first man since Marco Pantani (1998) to win cycling’s two most prestigious Grand Tours – the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia – in the same season.
In his short career, Pogačar has already won the Tour de France twice, finished second twice more, and finished third in his only appearance at the Vuelta a España in 2019 – but this will be his debut at the Giro d’Italia.
The announcement comes as a surprise given Pogačar stated at the end of the 2023 season that his key targets for 2024 were the Paris Olympics, the UCI World Championships – and of course, to regain the Tour de France title.
It is a major coup for the race organizers, and Pogačar will be a major favorite for the maglia rosa when the Giro begins on May 4.
It also sets up an intriguing battle with Wout van Aert, who has already announced his plans to target the race, although it is unclear as yet whether he’ll be targeting stage wins or the General Classification, which would be a major change in approach for the Belgian.
Will Giro bid hurt Pogačar’s Tour de France prospects?
Historically, few riders have attempted the Giro/Tour double due to the understandable belief that challenging at consecutive Grand Tours will leave them burned out and unable to compete at the latter.
Since Pantani’s 1998 double triumph, only two men have managed to finish on the podium at both races; Tom Dumoulin and Chris Froome, both in 2018.
With only a one-month gap between the Giro’s conclusion on May 26 and the Tour’s Grand Départ on June 29 – not to mention the Olympic road race in early August – Pogačar will have a major job on his hands maintaining peak form throughout spring and summer.
However, the 2024 Giro route, which has slashed the amount of climbing to 42,900 m from 51,300 m in 2023 and spread the elevation across the entire duration instead of piling it into the final week, was widely viewed as a bid by Giro organizers to tempt Pogačar to Italy by reducing the race’s impact on his Tour challenge.
The sentiment was echoed by four-time Grand Tour winner Vincenzo Nibali in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport:
“I’m not surprised. After four years spent racing on the Tour, winning two editions, it’s a correct and logical decision.
“Mentally, it does you good to change objectives. Adding the Giro would be a step closer to winning all three Grand Tours. He’d only be missing the Vuelta. A rider like him has to try it.”
Nibali also suggested the double-attempt could even prove a boost to Pogačar.
“I never managed to cope with two big stage races so close together,” he said. “First the stress of the Giro, and then the pressure of the Tour, [but] he would arrive at the Tour with a great result in hand and he wouldn’t carry the weight of being obliged to win the Tour.”