Pogačar favours alternative road to Tour de France defence

Liege - Bastogne - Liege 2021 - 107th Edition - Liege - Liege 259,1 km - 25/04/2021 - Tadej Pogacar (SLO - UAE Team Emirates) - photo Peter De Voecht/PN/BettiniPhoto©2021
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Tadej Pogačar could imitate fellow Slovenian Primoz Roglič and opt for a long spell away from racing and a low-key build-up to the Tour de France, only riding the Tour of Slovenia and the Slovenian national championships on home roads in mid-June rather than taking the traditional route of riding the Critérium du Dauphiné. 

Roglič will not race before the Tour de France, spending three weeks at altitude in Sierra Nevada and then further time pre-Tour in Tignes in the French Alps. Altitude training is considered vital to Grand Tour success, with more and more coaches and  riders preferring the controlled environment of training camps to the unpredictability of racing. 

Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) has not raced since Tirreno-Adriatico in early March preferring to train at home in Colombia than take on the Tour of the Alps, avoiding racing for over 60 days. Remco Evenepoel’s careful recovery from his pelvis fracture has been built around training camps rather than racing and he will also start the Giro d’Italia on May 8 with zero 2021 race days.    

Pogačar has raced an intense spring campaign and so rest and recovery are important before turning his attention to the Tour de France. He has earned a break after peaking early in February to win the UAE Tour.  He continued with overall victory at Tirreno-Adriatico, was third at Itzulia Basque Country and ended his spring with victory at Liege-Bastogne-Liege. 

The 22-year-old will also target the Tokyo Olympics after defending his Tour de France yellow jersey and so his preparation needs special consideration. 

Pogačar is enjoying a spell off the bike and out of the spotlight this week and according to La Gazzetta dello Sport, the UAE Team Emirates management are unlikely to include the Criterium du Dauphine in his pre-Tour de France programme.  The eight-day French stage race starts on May 30 and so falls soon after Pogacar’s key block at altitude training. The Tour de France starts in Brest on June 26 and so the four-day Tour of Slovenia between June 9-13 offers a far better and lower profile road towards his biggest goal of the season. 

Pogacar hinted at his plans and personal goals for June immediately after winning Liege-Bastogne-Liege. 

What’s his next goal after adding a monument to his Tour de France victory? 

“The Tour of Slovenia!” he said with a laugh. 

“I've ridden it three times, and I've never been on the podium…”

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