Tadej Pogačar reveals COVID-19 recovery ahead of Tour de France

Tadej Pogačar has disclosed that he overcame a recent bout of COVID-19 in the lead-up to the Tour de France. Speaking at a pre-race press conference in Florence on Thursday, the Slovenian cyclist shared details of his illness and recovery process.

“I stopped for one day and then some rollers inside,” Pogačar explained. “Then when I wasn’t sick anymore, I was riding outside.”

Pogačar, who has not competed since his victory at the Giro d’Italia at the end of May, revealed he caught the virus around 10 days ago. Despite the setback, he assured that the illness was not severe, likening it to a cold that passed quickly. “It’s not as serious anymore. Especially if your body already had the virus before and I had it once or twice,” he remarked.

While Pogačar has been dealing with his own health challenges, his main competitors, Jonas Vingegaard, Remco Evenepoel, and Primož Roglič, have been recovering from injuries sustained during a mass crash at April’s Itzulia Basque Country. Pogačar acknowledged the uncertainty that comes with returning to a Grand Tour after an illness or injury, drawing from his own experience with a fractured wrist at Liège-Bastogne-Liège last spring. “You’re never sure” about readiness, he noted.

Nevertheless, Pogačar expressed confidence in Vingegaard’s preparedness for the upcoming race. “It’s good to see him at the start. I think he’s ready because otherwise, I don’t think he’d be at the start,” Pogačar said. He also reflected on their ongoing rivalry, calling it “something extraordinary” and noting the mutual respect between them. “It’s crazy that we write this history ourselves as rivals. I appreciate this rivalry because I respect him a lot.”

Pogačar also highlighted the strength of his UAE Team Emirates squad, which includes Juan Ayuso, Adam Yates, and João Almeida. Describing his team as “super strong,” he stated, “We have one of the strongest teams ever in the Tour, I would say. Climbing-wise we have superstars, so I’m really honoured to have them as teammates.”

With his main rivals having less-than-ideal preparations for the Tour, and Pogačar’s own successful Giro d’Italia performance, he is seen as a strong contender for the yellow jersey. Reflecting on his team’s overall capabilities, he added, “Also, we have a really strong team for the flat and technical parts as well. I think we can be confident in this team. I’m super happy and honoured to have them as teammates.”