Very sad news:
Sadly I won't be at the start of @LiegeBastogneL tomorrow.— Tadej Pogačar (@TamauPogi) April 23, 2022
It's been a tough few days but I'd like to thank everybody for their understanding
A special thank you to @TeamEmiratesUAE & especially to Mauro Gianetti and Team President Matar for their support in this situation pic.twitter.com/px8VYkso65
The personal reason is apparently that his partner, Team BikeExchange rider Urška Žigart, lost her mother suddenly this week. Pogačar has since left the team to be with her back in Slovenia. Žigart, the former national ITT champion of Slovenia, had revealed the devastating news on Thursday.
Life is not fair sometimes. It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I share with you this news today. My mom was my best friend and the most important person in my life. https://t.co/u635bTGFEY— Urška Žigart (@urskazigart) April 21, 2022
Pogačar’s place in the team will be taken by Brandon McNulty. UAE are still one of the strongest teams to take the line at tomorrow’s monumental classic, with Marc Hirschi presumably their captain now. McNulty rode LBL last year and did not finish inside the limit; generally he has not specialized in the classics, though he won the Faun Ardèche Classic this spring. Wout Van Aert and Julian Alaphilippe are now the bettors’ picks to win, though of course the race has numerous potential scenarios looming.
Žigart, of course, is now out of the lineup for the women’s race, which she was originally scheduled to ride for the second time in her career. There are no reports as to when anyone will return to racing, though based on last year’s schedule it seems as though Pogačar was about to go on a racing break before his Tour de France buildup. Žigart, based on her 2021 calendar, was likely to be actively racing in May.