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Tadej Pogačar dials in for Tour de France defense with monster Stelvio training ride

Tour de France champ makes rare appearance on Strava to log two huge training rides out of Livigno altitude camp.

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Tadej Pogačar is setting the tone for his Tour de France defense.

Pogačar logged two huge training rides through the Italian Alps this week as he revs the throttle ahead of next week’s Tour of Slovenia and the July Tour de France.

Five- and then six-hour rides in the thin air of Livigno and the Stelvio national park are Pogačar’s first publically visible outings on the pedals since his last race at La Flèche Wallonne mid-April.

A training session recorded on Strava on Friday saw Pogačar set the KoM on the infamous Gavia Pass before notching a series more records on the climb to Bormio 2000.

A grind over the 2,700-meter Stelvio and back up to Livigno rounded out a day clocking 5,500 meters of vert in an effort just as big as any Tour stage.

Also read: Where are the TdF favorites now?

Like many pros, Pogačar keeps his power and heart rate data off the grid, so the direct detail of Friday’s mega-ride is under wraps.

However, some reverse-engineering and number-crunching suggest Pogačar hit 6.6 w/kg in one 15-minute surge up the Bormio 2000 slope.

Longer race-winning efforts deep into grand tours typically see numbers somewhere north of 6.0 w/kg for anywhere up to 30 minutes. But no matter what the exact numbers or ratios, Pogačar’s ride show he more-than means business.

Like last year, the UAE Emirates megastar is choosing his home race Tour of Slovenia for his final tune-up event.

Archrival Primož Roglič is currently six days deep at the Dauphiné, while Ineos Grenadiers duo Daniel Martínez and Adam Yates take on the likes of Aleksandr Vlasov and Thibaut Pinot at the Tour de Suisse next week.

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Details also emerged of the new Colnago “Prototipo” bike Pogačar will have available for racing in Slovenia and France in the coming weeks.

The 23-year-old could have been training on the lighter, stiffer, do-it-all race machine in Livigno, and will likely put it to use at the Tour.

With Pogačar out of competition since April and no chance to see him face-off with Roglič and the rest in the June races, anticipation is building for his appearance at the Grand Départ.

After blazing through UAE Tour, Tirreno-Adriatico and Strade Bianche, as well as going shoulder-to-shoulder with Mathieu van der Poel in his Tour of Flanders debut, expect Pogačar to be very good this July.

Pogačar sets the tone head of tour of Slovenia and the Tour de France.