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Tadej Pogačar had Covid-19 just last week, a revelation that perhaps changes the expected all-out start by him at the Tour de France (Photo: Williams)

Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) has revealed he caught Covid-19 last week, just before the Tour de France, but insists he shook it off very quickly and only felt ill for a day.

However, the revelation he caught the infection so soon before the race will put a question mark over his condition.

It also may level-up the playing field between him and his main rival, Jonas Vingegaard (Visma | Lease a Bike), especially in the opening stages, as the Dane is facing into the defence of his title at the Tour hoping he has recovered from his crash in April.

“It’s not as serious anymore, especially if your body already had the virus before and I had it once or twice,” Pogačar said. “It wasn’t too bad, just like a cold. It passed really fast.

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

Vingegaard crashed at Itzulia Basque Country at the start of April, puncturing a lung and breaking multiple bones. And though those injuries were much more serious than anything Pogačar has had to contend with, the fact the Slovenian has had Covid-19 perhaps changes things a little.

Many people expect Pogačar to go on the attack early in the Tour – maybe even on the opening two stages this weekend – in a bid to exploit any weaknesses in Vingegaard’s form before he has a chance to ride himself into what will be his first race back since his crash nearly three months ago.

However, that expected all-out approach from the gun by Pogačar is now thrown into question somewhat by the news he has had Covid-19 so recently. For his part, Pogačar insisted he was glad to see Vingegaard back racing.

“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. It’s something I’m looking forward to, making a great show again,” he said.

“I think the relationship between me and Jonas is something extraordinary. It’s crazy that we write this history ourselves as rivals. I appreciate this rivalry because I respect him a lot.”

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