Get access to everything we publish when you join VeloNews or Outside+.
VALENCE, France (VN) — Tadej Pogačar won’t share his power data, even if it might quiet suggestions that his performances so far in the 2021 Tour de France are too good to believe.
Pogačar was asked Tuesday if he would consider revealing some of his data from his power meter to counter insinuations from some that he is doping.
The yellow jersey said he might, but he doesn’t want to give away trade secrets.
“I would love to,” said Pogačar when asked if he would share power data. “But then everybody sees your files and they can use that against in the race. It’s a bit more difficult than that.”
Power data is often as jealousy guarded as the recipe to Coca-Cola.
Many riders and teams have long loathed to share power data since the measuring devices started to work their way into the peloton.
The reason? Racers are worried that if their rivals know their numbers they can devise real-time tactics and adjust longterm training programs to counter any advantages.
For Pogačar, settling comfortably into yellow following a wild weekend in the French Alps, fielding questions from skeptical journalists is part of the game.
Pogačar was asked about the veracity of his performance so far during the Tour in a Zoom call in Monday’s rest day, and more questions were popping up in the media mixed zone at the start Tuesday.
“I was asked this question yesterday, and I stated the facts,” Pogačar said. “I don’t know what to do anymore to prove my innocence. For sure I am dominating the race, but if you look at the times on the climbs and why there are gaps, the crashes in the field the first few days show it’s not the level it’s supposed to be.”
On Tuesday, UAE Emirates sports director Joxean Matxín Fernández defended Pogačar, saying that crashes and bad luck among some of the team’s top rivals is also marking the current look of the overall standings.
“I sincerely believe that he is in the same condition as he was in last year, it’s just that the others have crashed, and they lost time, and Tadej has been lucky thanks to the good work of his team,” he told reporters Tuesday. “I reviewed his power numbers from 2020, and they are practically the same, and the same with the number of [doping controls] that’s he done as well.”
When asked by VeloNews if the public and peloton believes Pogačar, Israel Start-Up Nation’s Michael Woods said it’s up to every fan to decide.
“Why watch sports if you don’t believe?” Woods said. “It’s nice to see someone do something special. Somebody has to be the best. So he’s obviously on another level right now. I think you’ve just got to watch and believe.”
The big buzz going around the peloton right now is if there some sort of weakness or vulnerability in Pogačar or UAE Emirates.
“Maybe there’s maybe a chance that Pogacar went out too hard in the first week,” Woods said. “But the way he’s looked and the way I’ve seen him in the peloton, I don’t see any cracks in the armor.”
Despite some doubts about the stoutness and depth of the UAE Emirates team, Matxín Fernández defended the performance so far to protect the leader.
“People can say what they want, but when you look at Sunday, we had eight in a group of 28, so I do not how anyone can say we are not a strong team,” Matxín Fernández said. “We all believe in each other. The team believes in him, and he believes in the team, and Tadej believes in himself.”
For Pogačar, the Tour now becomes a game of avoiding disaster and staying one step ahead of his rivals.
With the double-ascent of Mont Ventoux up next, Pogačar said he’s only seen in training, but never raced it.
When you ask Pogačar why he is leading, the answer is obvious.
“I can tell you that I push good watts,” Pogačar said. “That is why I am in the first place.”