After nearly 18 months spent on Zoom, in virtual press conferences, meetings, sponsor events, Tadej Pogačar is speaking but no-one can hear him, because he's forgotten to unmute himself.
Therefore, we get the abridged version as he repeats what he's been up to since the Tour de France and Tokyo Olympics.
"One week off and then I started training again a little bit. Riding my bike in the summer, good weather. Going to the beach, enjoying the small things, and now back to racing."
The 22-year-old's summer has consisted of a second yellow jersey and a bronze medal in the Tokyo Olympics road race - not a bad haul.
Now, he returns to racing at the Bretagne Classic, where he briefly featured in the breakaway move alongside Julian Alaphilippe, finally proving human as he blew up, before he goes on to the European and World Road Championships and then Il Lombardia.
“I’d like to ride the Worlds. I think it’s a privilege to ride for the Slovenian national team and I’ve always loved the World Championships,” he says of whether the decision that he will compete for the rainbow jersey in Flanders next month has been made.
Indeed, there is still the child-like enthusiasm for bike racing as a pure endeavour, there are few glimpses of a world-weariness that comes with the elevated status of someone excelling in their field, and the attention that brings.
“I’ve still got a lot of different races to compete in, races that I haven't tried yet, like Plouay," he says of thoughts of the future.
“I want to do some different stuff to see what I can do. For sure I want to try to win some Grand Tours, especially the Giro, and the Vuelta, which I haven’t won yet.
“I don’t know what my future will bring, I go from race to race, I enjoy my racing.”
Pogačar is somewhat guarded, during the Tour he would only become animated in post-race press conferences when a question irked him, queries about the strength of his team, and in other circumstances, a cynic would say his humility protects him from revealing too much of his character to the outside world.
On Spanish commentary during the Tour, David de la Cruz "revealed" Pogačar ate eight chocolate mousses after a mountain stage. When this line of inquiry is pursued with his press officer, the response is that De la Cruz may have exaggerated slightly. Even the number of chocolate mousses eaten by the two-time champion is a closely guarded secret.
But on the other hand, only privacy keeps the outside world on the outside, which Pogačar seems fairly intent on doing, and doesn't seem overly bothered with the potential trappings of celebrity status.
“I never consider myself a star,” he admits. “People recognise me but I’m not a pop star, I’m just a bike rider.
“I’m living my dream, doing what I love. I’m riding my bike and I’m good at it. That’s my dream come true. I have some great support from my girlfriend, my family and my friends. We’re having a good time together and this is all I need.”
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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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