If you are a fan of cycling and everything that surrounds the sport, you probably already know about the sporting career of Tadej Pogačar, a Slovenian professional cyclist who has won numerous titles and awards since its inception. Among them, the Tour of Spain stands out, a competition in which he won three stages and finished in third place.
In this same year he also became the youngest cyclist to win first place in a stage race in the Tour of California when he was 20 years old. In addition, he also won two consecutive editions of the Tour de France, becoming the second youngest cyclist to win this great competition after Henri Cornet.
It is obvious that dedication and effort are two of the main protagonists in the life of an athlete, and for this reason, today we will discover 10 curiosities about his personal and professional career that you may not have known about. Stay and read today's post if you are as interested in the world of cycling as we are!
1. Where and when was Tadej Pogacar born?
The cyclist was born on September 21, 1998 in Klanec, a small town located in the municipality of Komenda, in the upper region of Slovenia. From a very young age, he felt an attraction to bicycles and everything that surrounded them, in such a way that at only 16 years old he was already competing semi-professionally for the Slovenian cycling team, with whom he participated in the Tour of his native country to measure himself against great sports professionals and start their career in a brilliant way.
2. Did you know that it was Eddy Merckx who chose his nickname?
Eddy Merckx, a true cycling legend, was the one who nicknamed the young Slovenian "the cannibal", a diminutive of his own nickname, "the cannibal", in honor of some characteristics that both share. Like Merckx, the Slovenian cyclist has more than proven to be an example of strength and dedication despite his youth and little experience. Both achieved the white, red and yellow jersey at a very young age and have shown they have the guts to compete with great older riders and not fear failure.
3. What did Tadej Pogacar study?
The Slovenian studied secondary school at the mechanical engineering school in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, where he combined his studies with his career as an athlete. After finishing them, he enrolled in the College of Sports Management in Kranj, the fourth largest city in Slovenia, where he trained in sports while continuing his career on the bicycle.
4. Who was your biggest influence on cycling?
The Slovenian was surrounded from a young age by great influences that meant an absolute dedication to cycling. One of them was his older brother, Tilen Pogačar, who started in this same discipline from a young age at the Rog cycling club in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and from which Tadej was inspired to begin his career as a cyclist. But it wasn't all that simple, Tadej was too small to train on such big bikes, and the club didn't have smaller bikes adapted to his weight and height. For this reason, it was not until he was 9 years old when the Slovenian began training during the winter and little by little he saw the results of his effort and dedication. One of his first races was in Trstenik, a small town located in the Kranj hills, where he was supported by the entire Slovenian cycling team.
5. He played soccer before fully immersing himself in cycling.
Indeed. Despite having been set in the world of cycling from a very young age due to the influence of his older brother, the Slovenian played soccer at the primary school he attended and began playing for the local team from his hometown: Komenda Football Club. Despite being a discipline that he liked and enjoyed a lot, cycling began to outshine all other sports and he quickly focused on it to continue his career in this discipline.
6. The 2019 Vuelta a España was his first ascent to the podium
It was in 2019 when the Slovenian debuted with his team in the Vuelta a España. He was one of the youngest participants in the competition and his classification did not leave anyone indifferent. He won two stages in the second week and in the third he was crowned after winning in the Sierra de Gredos. It was in this competition that he donned the white jersey as the youngest cyclist to win the event and was third in the general classification, earning a place on the podium for the first time.
7. How was your first Tour de France?
The Slovenian showed up with the main objective of helping his leader, Fabio Aru, an Italian cyclist who won the 2015 Tour and weakened early in the Tour. In the first weeks of the competition, Tadej became the team leader having won two mountain stages; the ninth, whose goal was in Laruns, and the fifteenth, with a goal in Grand Colombier. As the Tour progressed, the Slovenian seemed to gather strength and took a memorable victory in the Le Planche des Belles Filles time trial, crowning himself the leader of the race with a large advantage over his opponents. In this way, in addition to the yellow jersey, the Slovenian also won the white jersey and the red dotted jersey at just 22 years old.
8. His obsession with the bicycle is real
Despite the advice of his coaches and family, the Slovenian who started practicing this sport in his hometown at just 9 years old, has confessed in several interviews the difficulty he has getting off the bike and, he wouldn't know spend not a single day without dedicating time to what is his greatest passion: cycling. From a very young age, he spent hours and hours glued to the television contemplating the successes of great cyclists like Alberto Contador or Andy Schleck and then imitating their movements and going out for a bike ride himself.
Luckily, he shares many friends from the world of cycling, including the Slovenian Urška Žigart, racing cyclist for BikeExchange, and his compatriot Primož Roglič, with whom he has faced several times in the Tour and the Vuelta to Spain. With both, he has managed to feel supported and loved without having to get off the bike for even a second.
9. The director of the UAE Team Emirates defined his style as fun after the 2021 Tour de France
Allan Peiper, sports director of the club for which Tadej signed in 2018, defined his style as fun and competitive. One of the fundamental maxims for the Slovenian is, in addition to winning, having a good time while competing. The cyclist's unbeatable style led him to win the Tour de France for the second time in a row after three stage victories and a yellow jersey, but most importantly, he confessed to having enjoyed the entire competition like a child.
10. He doesn't like individual competitions
On several occasions, the Slovenian has confessed that he is not a big fan of individual awards due to the lack of camaraderie that exists in them. As in soccer, a discipline that he practiced before cycling, many awards are individual, and this is something that the cyclist does not understand or share due to the fact that they are team sports. For him, it would not have been possible to win the Tour de France without the support of his opponents, and above all, he has shown his respect and admiration for all of them without any kind of competitiveness. In fact, in the 2021 Tour he said that it would have been fairer if his teammates had gotten on the podium to celebrate first place with him.