Tadej Pogacar is a Slovenian cyclist who rides for UAE Team Emirates and is known for his many titles within cycling. A climber and stage-racer of specialty, he has won the 2020 and 2021 Tour de France editions, and has throughout his short career already taken wins at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Il Lombardia, Strade Bianche aswell as several overall titles in World Tour stage races, and dozens of pro wins at the highest level.
Name: Tadej Pogacar
Born: 21 September 1998
Birthplace: Klanec, Slovenia
Turned Pro: 2017
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Tadej Pogacar was born on the 21st of September 1998 in the village of Komenda, just in the north of Slovenia's capital of Ljubljana. He's started cycling at the age of 9 as he followed his older brother Tilen Pogacar into the Rog Ljubljana club. In his early years of cycling he captured the attention of some big figures in Slovenia including former pro Andrej Hauptman - who later became a DS for UAE Team Emirates, who has heavily influenced the development of Pogacar as a pro rider.
Pogacar's partner and fiancée is Urska Zigart, a fellow pro rider who races in the women's peloton. He has also auctioned in 2022 diamond-encrusted shoes, with the proceedings going towards the Tadej Pogačar Cancer Foundation which he has created alongside his coach Iñigo San Milan, following the death of his partner's mother with cancer. The leading figure at UAE Team Emirates, the Slovenian has also became a leading figure for bike company Colnago, alongside the team's groupset supplier Campagnolo, both of which almost exclusively are present in UAE Team Emirates' equipment set in the World Tour. Pogacar is believed to have a salary of €6 million per year, making him the highest-earnier athelete in the sport. The most accurate estimate of his FTP is between 6-6.2W/Kg, taking into consideration an effort he's done in January 2022 and shared power data from it, in which he did 6.3W/Kg for 36 minutes. Taking into consideration that this was in January, far from his competitive peaks, his best values could however be higher.
Pogacar turned professional in 2017 as an under-23 rider with the ROG - Ljubljana team (today termed Team Ljubljana Gusto Santic, who still race at Continental level). Although strong, his first season didn't see any major results that would capture the attention of World Tour outfits, mostly focusing on the eastern European calendar, with a Top5 at the Tour of Slovenia and a third place at the Tour de Hongrie as his main highlights.
His second year as an under-23 would turn out to be completely different however. In the first half of the season the results has been similar, however towards the second half as his form came, so have the results. He took a win and won the GC at the Czech Grand Prix Priessnitz spa, and won the youth classification at the Tour of Slovenia before a race that would change his life. Pogacar won in 2018 the Tour de l'Avenir - termed the under-23 Tour de France. Although he did not manage to take a stage win, his consistency in the mountains saw him take the title, ahead Thymen Arensman and Gino Mäder - inbetween many others. In the weeks after he's also won the overall classification at the Giro della Regione Friuli Venezia Giulia, consolidating a contract in the World Tour with UAE Team Emirates.
2019 was his first season in the World Tour, where his growth was exponential. He made his debut at the Tour Down Under, and in February he won the Volta ao Algarve alongside a stage win. He would go on to finish sixth at Itzulia Basque Country later on, and won his first World Tour event in May where he won the queen stage and the overall classification of the Amgen Tour of California. Pogacar had given many hints, however few would've expected the breakthrough Vuelta a Espana he would go on to do later on in the year.
In 2019, as Slovenia conquered it's first Grand Tour in many years with Primoz Roglic, another talent emerged as Tadej Pogacar won three stages, all of them on summit finishes. At only 20 years of age he went on to become an almost unique talent, but his 2020 season would be even more successful. He opened his season with two wins and the GC at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, and at the team's home UAE Tour he has won a stage and finished in second place. The pandemic soon hit, but upon returning he beat Primoz Roglic in the Slovenian time-trial national championships - a result that anticipated a major blow he was soon to deliver.
The two found themselves going head-to-head at the Tour de France as the two top contenders. Roglic, a time-trial specialist and a rider with an incredibly strong Jumbo-Visma team, rode a conservative race after seeing Roglic jump into the yellow jersey on the 9th stage. The duo dealth each other small blows throughout the race, and entered the time-trial separated by only 57 seconds. In the final time-trial to La Planche des Belles Filles is where Pogacar dealt his final blow, shocking many with a staggering time-trial performance that saw him take the stage win and jump into the yellow jersey on the final competitive day. This has seen him become a Tour de France winner at the age of 21 years.
He finished the season with a third place in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, which anticipated yet another surge in his performance, as Pogacar won that same race in 2021, his first monument win. This was off the back of a wildly successful start to the season where he won a stage and overall classification at both UAE Tour and Tirreno-Adriatico and finished third at Itzulia Basque Country. His build-up however was later towards the Tour de France, and Pogacar won his home Tour of Slovenia before eyeing a title defense.
This one, was successful. Not only did Pogacar win the Tour but it was a dominant and confident win. In the opening week he showed great signs of form and went on to win the opening time-trial on stage 5. However it was on the first true mountain stage that he stamped his authority, as he jumped into the yellow jersey on the stage to Le Grand-Bornand, where he won a whole 3:20 on his rivals, one of the most mouth-opening performances in modern cycling. As was the case in his first two Grand Tours, here he went on to win three stages once again as he won the final two summit finishes at the Col du Portet and Luz Ardiden, to conquer his second Tour de France.
Right after the Tour he travelled to the Olympic Games, where he took a bronze medal in Tokyo, as Tour de France rival Richard Carapaz soloed into the win. Pogacar built towards the final monument of the season and took his second monument win of the season at Il Lombardia. It was a dominant season, that led way to another one in 2022 - now consolidated as a leading and commanding figure in the peloton.
2022 didn't start off too different, with utter domination of the UAE Tour and Tirreno-Adriatico, and a 50-kilometer solo win at Strade Bianche which has seen him thrive on terrain he hadn't until that date. Pogacar seemed unbeatable, but went on to race some classics he was not very familiar with, with quite some success. He was a key figure at Milano-Sanremo where his many attacks at the Poggio thinned down the group, where he finished fifth. His incursion into the Flandrien classics was also a success, as he was on the verge of winning the Tour des Flandres with another very aggressive performance. He arrived in fourth place however, being caught just before the finish line by a group containing some riders that would outsprint him. He did not attempt to defend his Liège-Bastogne-Liège title later in the spring as planned however as his fiancée's mother passed away.
Pogacar returned to competition again at the Tour of Slovenia, where he won two stages and the overall classification, helping his teammate Rafal Majka to two wins. He was targeting another Tour de France title, however this one was to have more competition, as Jumbo-Visma took an all-out approach to the race and two leaders in Primoz Roglic and Jonas Vingegaard who had finished second to him in the previous editions. A third place in the opening time-trial, win on the sixth stage to Longwy, and the victory in the first real summit finish of the race at La Planche des Belles Filles seemed to be launching him towards an inevitable third Grand Boucle trophy.
However it wasn't to be. Off the back of a very aggressive plan from Jumbo-Visma, on the 11th stage into Col du Granon Pogacar experienced a crack that was to echo throughout the entire cycling world. The Slovenian showed a crack in his armour that was previously unseen in Grand Tours, and lost almost three minutes to Jonas Vingegaard with whom he would end up battling for the second half of the race. Pogacar did not experience another less good day throughout the race, and was consistently aggressive in all summit finishes that remained in the race, and in some stages that featured tricky hilly terrain.
His offensive saw him take a stage win at Peyragudes - once again making three stage wins at the Tour, but he could not dislodge the Danish climber who was sturdy as a rock in the yellow jersey. Despite strong performances, Pogacar was to finish in second position. He shifted his focus into the finale of the season, where he won the hilly GP de Montréal, and in preparation for Il Lombardia he's won Tre Valli Varesine aswell. Pogacar was the man to beat at the 2022 Il Lombardia and he went on to reconsolidate his title, making for his third title of the season. Pogacar was the rider who scored the most UCI points in both 2021 and 2022 seasons.
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