Tour de France trivia: Who the heck is Tadej Pogačar?

From crushing time trials to flogging keyrings, here are a few facts you need to know about the 22-year-old Tour champion.

Photo: Christophe Ena - Pool/Getty Images

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Tadej Pogačar hasn’t been on the racing scene for so long, but he sure has made an impact.

Having only stepped up to the WorldTour at the start of last year, the young Slovenian has already won the Tour de France and taken third-place at the Vuelta a España.

Pogačar will be celebrating his 22nd birthday today, September 21, and so is going to be around a few years yet. With a decade of Tadej to look forward to, here are a few facts to fill you in on the Slovenian superstar.

Lifetime passion

“I started watching the Tour de France back in 2009 or 2010 [aged 11 or 12], following Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck, spending all day in front of television and then going riding myself,” the Ljubljana native told AFP on Saturday after his dramatic time trial turnaround on the Planche des Belles Filles.

Youngest Tour winner in over a century

Pogačar in Paris Photo: Stephan Mantey – Pool/Getty Images

In 1904 Frenchman Henri Cornet won the Tour de France at the age of 19, and remains the youngest-ever winner of the race. Pogačar becomes the second-youngest champion after his 2020 triumph at the age of 21, and the youngest Tour champion of the post-WWII era. He was born on September 21, 1998.

Time trial rivalry with Roglič

Pogacar’s staggering victory in the stage 20 time trial over Primož Roglič was not a complete surprise. Earlier in the season, the Slovenian national time trial championships were raced over a similar course, albeit with the climb first and the rolling section afterward, and only 16km in length. Pogačar changed bikes while Roglič did not, with the younger man taking victory over by a slender nine seconds. Roglič has however gotten the better over Pogačar in the past, beating him by over 1:29 in the rolling 36km time trial at the 2019 Vuelta.

Has ambitions throughout the calendar

Pogačar chases Greg Van Avermaet in the brutal Yorkshire worlds. Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images

The youngster is more than just a stage racer, and harbors ambitions in the grittiest of classics. Having taken stage wins in the wettest and wildest Vuelta stages and survived the brutal conditions of the 2019 world championships to finish 18th, Pogačar isn’t afraid of the weather. This year, he will race the Ardennes classics and Tour of Flanders. He also has taken top-15s in junior Paris-Roubaix and U23 Tour of Flanders.

Track record

Pogačar only joined the elite level of cycling last year and was thrown in at the deep end when UAE-Team Emirates decided he could race the Vuelta a España. He won three stages through the back-half of the race and ended an impressive third place behind Roglič and Alejandro Valverde, while also taking the young rider’s classification. Similarly, in this year’s Tour, Pogačar took the white jersey and won three stages – stages 9, 15 and 20. Before joining UAE-Team Emirates, Pogačar won key development race the Tour de L’Avenir in 2018, beating the likes of Ivan Sosa and Aleksandr Vlasov. Egan Bernal won the race in 2017.

Has his own brand

Need a stylish golf umbrella, or maybe a keyring? Tadej can make it happen.

When he’s not busy winning races and scooping massive prize monies, entrepreneurial Pogačar sells branded umbrellas, keyrings, baseball hats, ponchos, and much, much more through his personal website.

— AFP contributed to this report.

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