Tour de France 2022 - Tadej Pogacar, the point of concern: "The Covid can ruin everything"

Tour de France 2022 – Tadej Pogacar, the point of concern: “The Covid can ruin everything”


So far, so goodThis is Tadej Pogacar’s favorite formula. With already two bouquets and a yellow jersey on his shoulders for the third consecutive stage, the double title holder is actually going through a Tour without a hitch for the moment. This is even the scenario perfect for the Slovenian, who only sees a single cloud appearing on the horizon, all the more worrying because he has no control over him: the Covid.

Saturday morning, two runners were forced to leave the race because of a positive test. Among them, the Norwegian Vegard Laengen, teammate of Pogacar within the formation UAE Emirates. “He was the big guy on the team, he was in good shape, riding on the flat, on the climbs, everywhere, regret the yellow jersey. It was like the team train. It’s going to be harder without him. Despite everything, I think we can get by with seven runners to Paris.”

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This pandemic is here, and unfortunately we are not spared

Beyond the purely sporting aspect, the fear of collective contamination weighs on the Emirates team. “We are obviously worried because he has been in contact with the riders, the whole team“, admits Adriano Rotunno, the doctor of UAE.

Friday, after the new tour de force of ‘Pogi’ at the Super Planche des Belles Filles, Bradley Wiggins estimated with our colleagues from British Eurosport that the Tour was over “unless a fall, injury or Covid“. Nobody wants one of these three elements to disrupt the hierarchy, but the coronavirus is clearly the one that “haunts” Tadej Pogacar the most. Especially since it can fall on you at any time, without warning. “The Covid is not a rival but a parameter that can affect things“, summarizes the young Slovenian.

Tadej Pogacar is more alert than ever on the subject after the Laengen warning: “Yes this is a real concern. The Covid can ruin everything. Two riders have been affected (the other is Geoffrey Bouchard, the French rider for the AG2R Citroën team). This pandemic is here, and unfortunately we are not spared, we cannot risk running sick, so we must take this seriously. We are on the road every day, in the mountains there are a lot of people cheering you on and shouting at you. This is something that I really like but it increases the chances of getting infected with the virus. I hope everything will be fine until the end.”

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Single rooms and personal masseur

According to the Slovenian, the UAE team have implemented their own protocol. The runners occupy individual rooms, wear the mask and all have their own masseur. That of Laengen was thus sent home on Saturday, as a precaution. They are also tested every three days. “Every other day for some“, even specifies Pogacar. Last night (Friday, editor’s note), we were all negative, then during the night Vegard had a sore throat. He tested himself again this morning (Saturday) and the result was positive“, he explains. A similar scenario occurred at AG2R, as manager Vincent Lavenu explained on Saturday at the departure of Dole on Eurosport:

“We are taking very strict measures within our team, but that is not enough. We meet a population in hotels or on the side of the road and inevitably, we can be affected. well the day before and positive the next day. The ax can fall at any time. We feel that we are at the mercy of this virus at any time. No one is immune. Neither the young nor the big runners. At any time, it can fall on anyone.”

The new Covid protocol put in place for the 2022 edition allows an asymptomatic positive case to remain in the race, on the decision of a tripartite college made up of the team concerned, the organization and the UCI. But several teams have decided to go further. “It is important that anyone who is positive goes home“, insisted the sports director of Team UAE Emirates, Andrej Hauptman. At the end of the 9th stage on Sunday, the whole peloton will have to be tested between Sunday evening and Monday, during the rest day. there will be no appeal: any rider who tests positive will have to leave the Tour.So far, so good.

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