Pogačar and the Giro-Tour Double

Words by Zach Nehr

No one in a quarter century has achieved the Giro-Tour double by winning both Grand Tours in the same season. Tadej Pogačar has set out to change that – but is it possible? 

Of course it is. 

Tadej Pogačar is a cycling superstar, one of the best riders in the world, and a two-time Tour de France Champion. The 25-year-old had one of his most successful seasons in 2023, winning the Tour of Flanders, Amstel Gold Race, Paris-Nice, and Flèche Wallonne. In addition to his 21 wins throughout the season, Pogačar also finished second at the Tour de France and third at the World Championships Road Race. 

While Pogačar is the most experienced 25-year-old in professional cycling, he has never before ridden two Grand Tours in the same season, let alone try and win both of them. In fact, he’s never started the Giro d’Italia before. 

But in 2024, that will all change. 

Overall Stress of Back-to-Back Grand Tours

The stress of riding two Grand Tours in a season is more than just the kilometers on the bike. It means being away from home for months at a time, risking crashing or getting sick, and racing in extreme weather conditions. Pogačar has never done two Grand Tours in one season, but he is used to racing upwards of 50 times a year.

Sepp Kuss rode all three Grand Tours in 2023 – and not only did he finish them, but he won his third Grand Tour of the season, the Vuelta a España. Clearly, it is possible to ride and win multiple Grand Tours in a single season, and Pogačar will be backed by the number one team in the world, UAE Team Emirates. 

One of the new challenges for Pogačar will be handling the wet and wild weather at the Giro d’Italia. The Italian spring can range from snowing in the mountains to pouring rain by the ocean and everything in between. There’s always a chance of hot stages, too, especially in the third week of the Giro. 

Pogačar and his UAE Team Emirates teammates will have the ENVE’s entire SES wheel line at their disposal to ensure they have the perfect option regardless of the course profile or weather conditions. 

Pogačar’s wheel choice was a top talking point during the Tour de France last year as he opted to use the aerodynamic SES 4.5 wheel on all but the very hardest of climbing days. 

Key Stages for Pogačar in the Giro d’Italia

The 107th Giro d’Italia begins with two hilly stages, including a summit finish on Stage 2. It will only be the first week of May, but Pogačar will have to be in good form for the summit finish at Santuario di Oropa. 

There are many different ways to measure climbing performance, but here, we’ll use VAM to compare and contrast Pogačar’s estimated efforts. VAM is an acronym for the Italian phrase ‘velocità ascensionale media’, but colloquially, it has been English-translated to ‘vertical ascent in meters.’  In other words, VAM is an estimate of the number of vertical meters you climb per hour. 

You can think of VAM like speed, but vertically. Instead of traveling horizontally at 20 kph or mph, you are climbing at a VAM of 500 vertical meters per hour, for example. VAM is strongly influenced by the length and gradient of a given climb – it’s easier to produce a higher VAM on shorter and steeper climbs, for example.

An exceptional VAM is >1,500 Vm/h on any given climb, while most amateur riders will be around 300-600 Vm/h. World-class VAM is >1,800 Vm/h, especially on longer climbs, in the heat, and up to high altitudes. 

On Stage 6, the Giro introduces more than 15km of gravel sectors to the race, while Stage 7 is a 38 km Individual time trial (ITT) finishing atop the climb to Perugia. The following day is one to watch for Pogačar as the Giro finishes atop the Prati di Tivo, a climb that Pogačar has won before, during Stage 4 of the 2021 Tirreno–Adriatico. 

Pogačar – Prati di Tivo during the 2021 Tirreno–Adriatico

Time: 36’ 06”

VAM: ~1,700 Vm/h

In the third week of the Giro, Pogačar will face the toughest mountain tests thus far on Stages 15, 16, and 17. 

First, Stage 15 features a summit finish at Livigno (Mottolino), where 45 of the final 55km of the stage are uphill. This could be the first time we see Pogačar use the climbing-specific ENVE SES 2.3 wheels.

Stages 16 and 17 feature multiple 15-20 km climbs, a bit of unknown territory for Pogačar. The Slovenian has proven himself on 5-minute, 20-minute, and 30-minute climbs throughout his career, but rarely has Pogačar shown his best form during an hour-long effort. 

To win the Giro d’Italia, Pogačar will have to push an estimated 1,500 VAM for over 50 minutes, multiple days in a row. 

Passo Stelvio – 2024 Giro d’Italia Stage 16

Estimated Time: 54 minutes

Estimated VAM: 1,550 Vm/h


The final GC test of the Giro is Stage 20, which features two ascents of Monte Grappa (18.2km at 8.1%). These will be long climbing tests lasting nearly an hour, but we will know from the past few stages what kind of pace Pogačar can hold for this type of climb. 

Key Stages for Pogačar in the Tour de France

It’s no secret that the Giro d’Italia is not like the Tour de France. And we’re not just talking about the stage profiles. Pogačar will have to contend with different weather conditions, road surfaces, technical descents, and top competition at the Tour de France. While the Giro will certainly be hard, it’s often said that there’s nothing comparable to the Tour de France – it’s like going to a different planet. 

The first week of the 2024 Tour may be the trickiest for Pogačar to get right. He’ll be coming off the Giro, which finishes only five weeks earlier, and going straight into two punchy stages to start the Tour. Namely, Pogačar will have to be at his best during Stage 2 for the Cote de San Luca, a steep final climb that he has done well on while riding ENVE SES 4.5 wheels

In 2023, Pogačar climbed the Cote de San Luca in five minutes 25 seconds at an incredible VAM of 2,100 Vm/h. But on the second stage of the Tour de France, he could have to climb even faster. 

Pogačar – Cote de San Luca during the 2023 Giro dell'Emilia

Time: 5’ 25”

VAM: 2,100 Vm/h

Just two days later, Pogačar will race up the Col du Galibier and ride over the highest point in the 2024 Tour de France at 2,627 meters (8,619 feet). Not only will Pogačar need his VO2 Max to be in top shape for Stage 2 of the Tour, but he will also need to be able to perform a 40+ minute climb to high altitude just two days later. 

Pogačar – Col du Galibier during the 2022 Tour de France

Time: 48’ 10”

VAM: 1,492 Vm/h

After a number of sprint stages and gravel sectors, the Tour de France returns to the mountains for Stages 14 and 15. The latter is perhaps the steepest of climbing stages in this year’s Tour, with over half of its climbs averaging over 8%.  

But maybe the hardest stage of this year’s Tour de France is Stage 20 from Nice to the Col de la Couillole. In just 133 km, Pogačar will climb the Col de Braus (10.2km at 6.3%), Col du Turini (20.6km at 5.7%), Col de la Colmiane (7.6km at 6.8%), and Col de la Couillole (15.8km at 7.3%). Each climb should take 30-60 minutes, and it is the final climb that is the toughest. 

In the world of sports science, it is said to be impossible for an endurance athlete to maintain peak shape for more than 6-8 weeks. The first stage of the Giro d’Italia and the final stage of the Tour de France are 19 weeks and 6 days apart

The Giro-Tour double is one of the rarest achievements in cycling history. But so is winning two Tours de France and five Monuments before the age of 25. If there’s anything that Tadej Pogačar has proved in his career, it’s that nothing is impossible. 

Pogačar begins his 2024 race season at the Strade Bianche before trips to Milano–San Remo, Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, and Liège–Bastogne–Liège. Pogačar will race on ENVE SES 4.5 wheels during the spring and summer, but watch out for his special ENVE SES 2.3 wheels climbing wheels during the hilliest races of the year. He’ll also be using the soon-to-be-released SES Aero Team One-Piece Handlebar. 

Link to Pogačar’s Strava