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Tadej Pogačar to race Liège-Bastogne-Liège despite family emergency

UAE Team Emirates canceled a scheduled press conference with the Slovenian star this week after two-time Tour de France winner returned to Slovenia.

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Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) will defend his title Sunday at Liège-Bastogne-Liège despite a family emergency, officials confirmed.

UAE Emirates canceled a scheduled press conference with the Slovenian star this week after Pogačar returned to Slovenia following Wednesday’s race at La Fléche Wallonne.

“Sadly it was arranged for Tadej Pogačar to travel home to Slovenia on Thursday morning to support his fiancé Urška Zigart’s family circumstances,” read a team note. Zigart, also Slovenian, races on the Team BikeExchange-Jayco women’s squad.

“At the moment it is planned he should return to the team in Belgium on Saturday for the race.”

Also read: Preview of the men’s and women’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Liège is scheduled to be Pogačar’s final major race of his highly successful spring season.

Victories at Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico heralded his spring classics season that also included fifth at Milan-San Remo and fourth at his dramatic debut at Tour of Flanders.

On Wednesday, the 23-year-old could only muster 12th on the brutally tough climb of the Mur de Huy.

Pogačar appeared relatively well-placed as the gradient began to rise, could not match eventual winner Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Victorious) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) for the final podium.

“I’m fully motivated for Sunday,” Pogačar said Wednesday. “I don’t see this as a weakness. It’s a one-day race and this happens. Sometimes you can’t do your best, sometimes you can do really good but I don’t think that this was a weakness.”

After Sunday, Pogačar isn’t expected to race again until the Tour of Slovenia in June ahead of his yellow jersey defense at the Tour de France.