Slovenian Tadej Pogacar said his wrist may not recover fully in time for next month's Tour de France, and he could race with a brace as he looks to win cycling's most prestigious crown for a third time.
Pogacar fractured his wrist in a crash during the Liege-Bastogne-Liege one-day race in April and underwent surgery to treat a scaphoid fracture. The UAE Team Emirates' medical director said at the time his recovery would take six weeks.
However, the 24-year-old said he had been a "bit stupid" and "disobeyed the doctor's orders" by jumping back on the bike but added that he was getting more mobility in his wrist.
"I pushed the team and tried to go on the bike, but I knew that I couldn't put too much pressure on the scaphoid," Pogacar told reporters.
"Obviously, I'm riding with a plastic cast that I can take off and on. I have a few different casts – one for normal life, one for the bike and then one for when I'm almost at the end for a bit of support. I'm taking care every day.
"We'll see if we can start to put more pressure on the hand. For the Tour, maybe I'll still need some soft brace around the wrist, just for a bit of support. I hope that I get the mobility to get out of the saddle and for sprinting before the Tour."
Pogacar won the Tour in 2020 and 2021 but failed to complete a hat-trick of wins last year when he was beaten by Jonas Vingegaard.
Pogacar is training in the Sierra Nevada mountains and will head into the July 1-23 Tour de France with just two days of racing at the Slovenian National Championships, opting not to defend his Tour of Slovenia title later this month.
"Unfortunately, I lost some training and couldn't do much on the road in the last four weeks," he said.
"Normally, I really like to have a race before the important race. But a Grand Tour is 21 stages, and sometimes it's good to be a little bit fresher.
"You can always do some good training behind the motorbike to simulate races, so I'm not so worried this year."