Tadej Pogačar is the latest in a longlist of riders to become sick ahead of Milan-San Remo, but the Slovenian announced during a press conference today (Friday) that he will still race in the Monument, despite not feeling "100 per cent".
The 23-year-old has already won the UAE Tour, Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico this season, so would be forgiven for joining multiple other riders in pulling out of the race due to the illness sweeping through the peloton.
However, instead of taking some time off to recover, Pogačar seems intent on fighting through the illness and produce a better result than the 12th he managed in his only ever Milan-San Remo appearance in 2020.
“I’m not 100 percent,” Pogačar said. “I have a bit of a stuffed nose. It was cold at Tirreno-Adriatico, and it was a hard week of racing. After that, I was tired for three days and barely touched the bike.
“Fortunately, things have improved since Thursday. That won’t hold me back on Saturday.”
Pogačar enters the Saturday race as one of the bookies' firm favourites, but even without riders such as Julian Alaphilippe, Caleb Ewan, Sonny Colbrelli and last year's winner Jasper Stuyven competing, the UAE Team Emirates rider will still have to contend with Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel, among others.
Wout van Aert has started 2022 strongly, comfortably crossing the line first at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad before emerging as Paris-Nice's points classification winner, following his stage four time trial victory.
Meanwhile, Milan-San Remo will be Mathieu van der Poel's first start of the season, though Pogačar still expects the Dutchman to challenge at the front of the race.
“Wout van Aert is in exceptional form, but he is not the only rival. There are so many riders who can go for the win. Every team has a man to keep an eye on.
“I never believe with Mathieu van der Poel that he is only here to train. I think he’s good. We’ll see on Saturday. I am happy to see him again.”
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