Tadej Pogačar, winner at Amstel Gold and La Flèche Wallonne, had to cut his race short and abandon his hopes of completing the Ardennes sweep by winning Liège-Bastogne-Liège, after getting caught in a crash along with EF Education-EasyPost's Mikkel Honoré and suffering fractures in his left wrist after just 84.5km of the final Belgian monument.
The Slovenian, who seemed unstoppable and was touted for a much-awaited duel with reigning champion Remco Evenepoel at today’s monument, was in the peloton behind the breakaway before the rather uncharacteristic crash.
According to reports, UAE Team Emirates' Tadej Pogačar seems to have got caught up in a really unusual crash with the Mikkel Honoré. It seems that the Danish cyclist hit a pot-hole ahead of the second climb, the Cote de Saint-Roche, with 174km remaining, resulting in an unfortunate puncture that 'exploded' his tyre and ended up taking Pogačar out as well.
After reports that he was being taken to the hospital for a scan, UAE-Team Emirates has now released following statement from their doctor about Pogačar: "Tadej suffered fractures to the left scaphoid and lunate bones. The scaphoid will require surgery which he will undergo this afternoon with a specialist hand surgeon here in Genk."
Earlier, the team's manager told the French-Belgian media RTBCF that Pogačar had a painful wrist and hoped that the injury was not serious.
— @UAE-TeamEmirates (@TeamEmiratesUAE) April 23, 2023
Earlier today, Demi Vollering won the Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes by out-sprinting Elisa Longo Borghin, completing an historic Ardennes Triple and becoming only the second women ever after Anna van der Breggen in 2017 to reach this feat.
Pogačar, who was also coming off the back of winning the Amstel Gold last Sunday (after some routine drafting controversies), and the La Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday, had the Triple crown in his sights as well, and could’ve become the third man to do so, after the late Davide Rebellin in 2004, and Philippe Gilbert in 2011.
This year’s edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège was more or less being tipped a head-on clash between Pogačar and Soudal-QuickStep’s Remco Evenepoel, who won the 2022 race… and raised a few eyebrows after turning up in white shorts at the French-speaking Belgian city of Liège along Meuse River.
Pogačar’s abandoning of the race definitely comes as a shock to the viewers, surely in anticipation of the fight and keen to watch the two cyclists try to one-up each other, as well as a blow for UAE Team Emirates, who seem to have no riders in the breakaway now, which is being controlled by Soudal-QuickStep and Deceuninck-Alpecin.
However, it does open up the doors for Evenepoel to stamp his mark of authority on the race and win it for consecutive years… or will it instigate other cyclists (looking at you, Pidcock) to fancy their chances and take the challenge to the Belgian?
Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.