Pogacar more confident than last year as he seeks Tour de France hat-trick

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June 30 (Reuters) - Tadej Pogacar has set his sights on a third consecutive Tour de France win, with the UAE Team Emirates rider saying on Thursday that he was more confident than in 2021 when he became the youngest rider to win back-to-back titles.

Pogacar, 23, won the UAE Tour and the Strade Bianche this year and the Slovenian said he has been training at high altitudes to prepare for another crack at keeping the overall leader's yellow jersey.

"I'm excited to start the Tour. Like any other race, I want to do my best here. It's the biggest event on the calendar, so I'm happy to be there and to fight for the title," he said.

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"The preparation went well, I was at altitude in the Tour of Slovenia, then at altitude again. I think the shape is good. Compared to last year, there really aren't any differences, I'm maybe a bit more confident.

"I'm still improving every year, I'm gaining experience... We'll see in the race. You never know what can happen - all it takes is one bad day. So we take the Tour day by day."

The July 1-24 Tour begins on Friday with an individual time trial in Copenhagen.

Pogacar could be the first rider since Chris Froome to win three consecutive titles.

Froome is set to make his 10th appearance at the Tour de France next month after being named in the Israel Premier Tech squad but the 37-year-old has not had great results since his Criterium du Dauphine crash in 2019.

"I've come back from an horrendous crash over the last three years and that wasn't the way I wanted to end my career," Froome said.

"This team has given me an opportunity to get back to the pointy end of the sport which -- after the injuries I had -- is the driving force for me, the biggest goal that gets me out of bed and on to the bike every day.

"It's not (about) winning the Tour de France right now, but I still dream about it, so I'm going to keep chasing that dream."

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Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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