THE CANNIBAL AND THE PRODIGY: MEETING IN DMT
11 October 2021: a date to remember
With the victory of two Classics and the Tour in the same year, Tadej Pogačar officially enters history’s “Big club”. This is Cannibale’s voice, cycling legend Eddy Merckx, during a meeting organized by DMT between Tadej and Eddy. During the event, hosted in our company, the two great champions had the opportunity to meet and talk, discuss and answer a few questions.
Eddy, how many times have you heard "this is the new Merckx" and how many times this has turned out to be false?
Merckx: «Yes, many times, but with Tadej I think this time it’s really true. He’s 23 and has already won the Tour de France twice, incredible. I had already understood that he had something special when in his first year as a professional he had won three stages in the Vuelta, the last of which attacking at 37 km from the arrival with Movistar who was chasing him behind. And then this year at the Tour, in the stage of Le Grand-Bornand, he took down all the competitors by refiling minutes on minutes».
Pogačar: «I did not expect to earn so much that day. A perfect day, even for the difficult climate, I pushed to the maximum and the advantage is increased: one minute, two minutes, three minutes up to four minutes! I was really fit».
No one approaches me as much as Pogačar, he is a complete runner and I think he is doing better than me in some races. Surely for many years we will enjoy a great champion who will give his best in this sport.
Have you got anything to say or ask each other?
Merckx: «I can only tell him to stay on the ground, to never think of having arrived because every year you start from the beginning and every year you must prove people to be the strongest. But he knows this very well, and he has a great team around that will help him a lot, and will take care of everything in detail. He is a complete rider, if he remains what he is now, he will win many other Tour de France and, of course, also the Giro d'Italia».
Pogačar: «Many people have told me that I am the new Merckx, but it is simply impossible to win what he won. I honestly do not know what to ask him, in fact, in this moment I am a little nervous, I am beside a legend...».
Can Pogačar really win what Merckx won?
Merckx: «Tadej is only at the beginning of his career, I think he can do better than me in some races. He is 23 years old and has already won 30 races. When I was 24 years old I hadn’t won the Tour de France, he has already won it twice. Surely for many years we will enjoy a great champion who will do his best for this sport».
Pogačar: «Eddy is a complete rider, he won everything. It will be difficult for me to win a Milan-Sanremo, imagine winning it 7 times! But it’s better not to think about the future, I want to enjoy this moment and this great year. The future is doubtful: I could stumble into a bad seasons or with few wins, so it is better not to think about reaching Merckx. I certainly like to win, but I can also accept defeat. Every race I try to leave a mark, even if it is a simple criterium in Slovenia. But I think it is in the nature of every rider... ».
A lot of people have told me I’m the new Merckx, but he’s a legend. For the moment my dream is to win a gold at the Olympics, at the World Cup, at the Vuelta, and also at the Giro.
When will we see Tadej at the Giro d'Italia?
Merckx: «One day he will participate for sure, I don’t know if next year or in two. But in my opinion it is only a matter of time before he wins even this race... ».
Pogačar: «I love the Giro. It’s a race that passes very close to Slovenia, and which I’ve been watching since I was a child. I remember when Mezgec won in sprint in Trieste, it was a real riot, and since that day I dreamt about the Maglia Rosa. I don’t know when I’ll be there, you have to ask the team manager Gianetti, but sooner or later I’ll be at the start and I’ll participate to win».
Tadej, do you still have any dreams?
Pogačar: «Sure. This year I finished third at the Olympics, I would like to go back to win the gold medal. But I would also like to win a World Championship. And the Giro. And also the Vuelta».
Eddy, does Tadej have any weaknesses?
Merckx: «I think not. He has the mentality and professionalism of a great champion and when you have them you have no weaknesses».