Pogacar, a tiger with the appearance of a cute kitten

Sports

By CAPosts 20 September, 2020 - 01:30pm 209 views

That Tadej Pogacar was an exceptional cyclist in almost every way was discovered by his coach, Alava from Laguardia Íñigo San Millán, one day in May 2019, at the Vuelta a California. On the eve of the queen stage, Higuita and Bennett, two of the strongest, attacked on a steep slope, and Pogacar did not follow them, he stayed in the peloton that reached them on the descent. Surprised by his passivity, San Millán asked him if he was not feeling well, how strange that he let them go, and Pogacar, all smiles, everything always calm, replied that no, that he was perfect, that he had simply preferred to stay in the platoon to see the faces of other favorites, hear their breathing, observe their gestures. "So I already know who is good and who is bad," he told San Millán, so much left over at age 20. "And only Higuita and Bennett, the ones who attacked, are fine." Both were watched and defeated the next day at Mount Baldy, and won the Tour of California. "As we already knew that physically it was tremendous, with the exceptional physiology of a beast, that detail already confirmed to us that its mental strength was so great, at least, if not more," adds San Millán, who knows all the secrets of the organism of the youngest Tour winner since 1904, the second youngest in history, who turns 22 this Monday, and carries such a flat-looking biography, a life so normal, that it is difficult to understand how he could conceive such a deceptive element , such a tiger with the appearance of a purring domestic cat. “He is a young man full of curiosity who wants to know at all times why things are done this way, the training, the diet, everything, and he wants to understand science,” adds San Millán. “And he is a young man with a carefree appearance, very calm, who attacks because he wants to win and is not afraid of losing, because he wants to win but is not afraid of defeat. And while others fear to explode, he passes from that fear, it is his courage, and he takes advantage ”.

"He is a young man with a carefree appearance and, while others fear to explode, he passes from that fear and takes advantage of it," explains his coach.
He is the son of a French teacher and an industrial designer from Komenda, 20 kilometers from Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, a country of two million inhabitants and a very high percentage of global champions, as there are Roglic and Pogacar, and also Luka Doncic, of course. He met his girlfriend, the also cyclist, and pianist, Urska Zigart, on February 14 at a youth concentration, and with her he lives in a minimum apartment in Monaco, like 40 other cycling professionals. The Slovenian sprinter Andrej Hauptman, the cyclist who finished third after Freire and Bettini in the Lisbon World Cup, trained him and made him grow as a youth, who tells how his potential was discovered at the age of 10, the result of a talent detection plan funded by the state, and how it was burning stages without compassion. He won the Tour del Porvenir at 19 and at 20, advised by Hauptman, who found next to him a job as director in the structure of Mauro Giannetti and Joxean Matxin, he was already leading the UAE in the Vuelta after becoming California's most successful cyclist. young man winning a WorldTour race. Resilience The Spanish round marked his first duel with Roglic, the first intuition the Slovenian veteran had that the young compatriot would always stand in his way. He won three stages - ninth, 13th and twentieth -, almost as symmetrically distributed as those of the Tour - ninth, 15th and 20th -, in which the capicua numbers - his dorsal, 131; his time in the coronation time trial, 55.55 - have accompanied his greatest physical virtue, his never-before-seen resilience, and he finished third. And he did not win the Vuelta a Roglic because, as Eusebio Unzue recalls, one who did not believe 100% that Roglic had it already done before the time trial, his escape in Gredos was countered by his Movistar in full to defend the second place in Valverde, and Roglic, without a team and weak, joined his wheel.

"We saw so clearly in California that his recovery capacity was very good that we decided then to make him debut in the Vuelta without objectives or anything," recalls San Millán, who at the University of Colorado metabolically analyzes thousands of cellular data of the cyclists he follows, and deduces the muscular state of each one, and concluding that Pogacar knows how to suffer a lot and washes lactate like nobody else during the effort, oxidizes it and expels it from the blood, and that it is capable of handling at more than 400 watts accumulating less than 10 millimoles, a trifle, of lactate, the poison that the body's exhaust pipe releases after burning fuel in the muscles. "We decided that he would do the Tour time trial without a potentiometer so that he would not be obsessed with numbers, and we calculated, seeing his numbers in the previous stages that he would walk at 400 watts, but later calculating with the climb speed and everything we concluded that he reached 415 for almost an hour, at 6.4 watts per kilo, practically the same numbers as in the Peyresourde in the eighth stage, his masterpiece so far ”.

"Great champions are born that way," says Greg LeMond of him
And in the time trial in which instinct guided him, he provoked one of the greatest cataclysms on the Tour, a very loud sunrise. “Great champions are born that way,” says Greg LeMond, who speaks of Tadej Pogacar, in the way so legendary that, to win his first Tour in his first participation, and without having yet reached the age of 22, he left nothing the great favorite, Primoz Roglic, who one hour, 36 kilometers, before the end of the game, already thought he had mastered everything. Like Fignon in '89, more or less . Champion for a while The great champions of the past, LeMond, Merckx, who also reached the moon on his first Tour, at the age of 24, praise Pogacar, and hope to soon consider him one of their own and believe in him despite the fact that those responsible for his team are the same ones who 12 years ago left the Tour at night and en bloc in front of the Saunier Duval to avoid the police after his figure then, Riccardo Riccò, was arrested after testing positive and after the Pyrenean exhibitions of Piepoli and Cobo, who would end up with doping suspensions. "I hope no one doubts him," he says in L'Équipe LeMond, who always stood out for his criticisms and doubts about Lance Armstrong. "For me he is a great winner." And great champions of the near present, like Contador, are happy: “It is an honor that he says that he started by watching me run. And what has hooked me is that he has been a runner who has not been afraid to attack. That young runners with so much talent admire you, you always like it. We have Pogacar for a while ”.

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