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Pogačar is back on the road for the first time since he sustained a fractured wrist at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and he’s lasered in on reclaiming the yellow jersey.
Team performance chief Jeroen Swart told VeloNews that Pogačar should be able to push fast-forward on his training program thanks to the 24-year-old’s unparalleled capacity for recovery, and an injury that came “well-timed.”
“I don’t think Tadej’s training program has been jeopardized to any great extent. He was due to have a rest period and a break after Ardennes classics, so in terms of timing, it couldn’t have been better, if you can put it that way,” Swart told VeloNews.
“He’s on the road again and due to go to altitude soon. We are pretty confident he can build back fast.”
Pogačar lost around two weeks of training this month while he rehabbed what was described as a “complicated” wrist fracture.
There were initial fears for the worst, and some questioned whether he’d be ready for a battle royale with defending champion Jonas Vingegaard at the Tour de France this July.
Five weeks after his dramatic crash at Liège, Pogačar is back on the bike and enjoying life.
A post this weekend on Instagram shows the Merckxian ace free from the indoor trainer and back riding outdoors.
Swart, who acts as UAE Emirates’ team performance director and works alongside Pogačar’s coach Iñigo San Millán, believes if any rider can recover and rebuild form in quick-time, it’s the Slovenian phenom.
“Given Tadej’s ability to recover and adapt, we remain very optimistic for the Tour,” Swart said in a call last week.
Pogačar and his performance team are set to fast-track his training program in the coming weeks at a team altitude camp.
The base he maintained training indoors through this month will be built out in a time-squeezed Tour de France bootcamp designed around his unique physiology.
“The unique thing with Tadej is that he’s able to accumulate a training load and recover and adapt faster than most other riders. And that means that although he’s doing similar sessions and similar kinds of stimuli in his training to others, he’s able to do more of it, and he’s able to reach a higher level sooner,” Swart said.
“That all means that he can reach a high level than other riders over the same period of time.”
It remains unknown whether Pogačar will race before he begins his quest for a third Tour de France title on July 1.
UAE Emirates will weigh the benefits of him refining racing rhythm at the Tour of Slovenia or Critérium du Dauphiné with the gains to be had by staying at thin air.
‘His big strength is his ability to recover and adapt’
Acclaimed physiologist and coach San Milan previously pointed out the unique metabolic parameters that put his athlete Pogačar on “another level” of resilience and susceptibility to training stimuli.
If Pogačar isn’t on full form for the July 1 grand départ, there’s every chance he will be for the crucial Alpine stages in the second and third weeks of the Tour.
“Traditionally, we think of athletes going to the Tour de France, accumulating fatigue over the course of the three weeks, progressively performing at a lower level, and just sort of holding on,” Swart said.
“But we have seen with Tadej, and a small handful of other athletes, that his capacity to adapt is such that he often produces his best performances in the final week of the tour. His big strength really is his ability to recover and adapt.”
The hilly Basque opening salvo of this year’s Tour de France could see initial shakes in the fight for the yellow jersey.
If Pogačar isn’t in the mix straight out of the start gate, it’s hard to imagine him not being in the frame come the Paris finishline three weeks later.