Pogacar improves on Merckx’s early triumphs in the elite

Sometimes comparisons are as odious as they are unavoidable. And that happens between two cyclists whose trajectories seem parallel despite belonging to different generations: Tadej Pogacar and Eddy Merckx. The Slovenian shares many similarities with the Belgian, tyrant and ‘Cannibal’ in cycling history, both for his style, always offensive and without giving anything away to rivals, and for his impressive precocity.

There are many years ahead to see if Pogi is capable of living up to Merckx, something that has always seemed unattainable to any mortal ever since the Belgian hung up the bike back in 1978. But if we compare the first three seasons of both in the elite From cycling we can draw a conclusion: Pogacar improves Merckx. It is not a matter of weight, since The Belgian added 33 wins to the 30 that Pogacar has at this point, but on the quality of those victories.

Among the most valuable achievements of that impressive irruption in the cycling elite of the Meensel-Kiezegem corridor, stand out two Milan-San Remo (The first was his second professional victory!), Two stages in Paris-Nice, the Walloon Arrow, two stages in the Giro d’Italia and gold in the World Cups. However, as the highlight of his first three courses on the World Tour, the beardless Pogacar has nine grand tour victories (6 on the Tour and 3 on the Vuelta), two national time trial, stage and general titles in Tirreno-Adriatico. , stage in Itzulia, two Tour de France generals and the two Monuments conquered in 2021: Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Tour of Lombardy.

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All of this serves the UAE Team Emirates rider, with whom he signed the longest contract extension in the history of cycling (until 2027), to have an almost unrivaled record at 23 years of age in a last dream season with his second Big Boucle and two Monuments (something only Coppi, Merckx and Hinault did before him). It’s dizzying just thinking about it, but the possibility that Pogacar inherits the honorary title of ‘El Caníbal’ is no longer remote.

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