Tadej Pogačar: Anatomy of a Tour de France Champion

Tadej Pogačar is one of the most successful road racers of the modern era.

At just 23 years old, the young cyclist has already notched two Tour de France wins, as well as breaking numerous other records.

He became the youngest cyclist to win a UCI World Tour race with the Tour of California win at the age of 20. On his Grand Tour debut, Pogačar won three stages of the Vuelta a España en route to an overall third-place finish and the young rider title.

But what is it about Tadej Pogačar that makes him so special?

In this article, we’re going to answer that question by providing you with the anatomy of the two-time Tour de France champion. We’ll be covering:

  • Background And Personal Life
  • Career And Achievements
  • Physical Attributes
  • Tadej Pogačar Bike
  • Tadej Pogačar Salary
  • What Does It Take To Be The Best?

Ready for the lowdown on a modern force in the Tour de France?

Let’s dive in!

Tadej Pogačar: Title Image
Credit: Petar MiloševićCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Edited from the original.

Background And Personal Life

Tadej Pogačar was born in the Slovenian village of Komenda on September 21st, 1998, the third of four siblings.

His mother Marjeta is a French-language teacher and his father Mirko previously worked in management at a chair factory before he joined the management team of Tadej’s former team Ljubljana Gusto Santic in 2021. 

Tadej Pogačar (pronunciation: Ta-day Po-gah-char) was exposed to cycling from a young age, following his older brother Tilen in joining the Rog Ljubljana club at the age of nine.

In 2011 he came to the attention of Road Racing World Champion (and current head coach and head of selectors for the Slovenian national cycling) Andrej Hauptman. The story of Hauptman’s introduction to Pogačar is pretty special.

After watching Pogačar pursuing a group of much older teenagers from 100 meters behind, Hauptman commented to the race organizers that Pogačar should be given extra help to keep up with the pack. The organizers replied that the younger rider was in fact about to lap the group he was chasing.

Hauptman then went on to manage Pogačar as an under-23 rider with the Rog–Ljubljana team before taking over as his coach in 2021. Since 2019, he’s been regularly performing on the biggest stage, racking up a load of serious achievements.

So what exactly has Pogačar’s career involved so far?

Career And Achievements

For such a young cyclist, Tadej Pogačar’s roll of honors is verging on the ridiculous.

After joining UAE Team Emirates for the 2019 season, Pogačar won the Volta ao Algarve and the Tour of California, a title which made him the youngest rider to win a UCI World Tour stage race.

A third-place finish in the Vuelta a España cemented his victory in the young rider classification – but the rookie rider was only just getting started.

His dramatic victory in the 2020 Tour de France, in which he snatched victory from compatriot Primož Roglič in the time trial on the final day of racing, made him the first Slovenian winner of the Tour de France. At the age of 21, he was the second-youngest winner of all time (bettered only by Henri Cornet, who won in 1904 at the age of just 19).

Pogačar followed this up with a dominant second win in 2021. In each of his Tour de France wins, he won three individual stages and the race overall, as well as the King of the Mountains and young rider classifications.

What’s more, the Slovenian cyclist is the first road cyclist in history to break the 6,000-point barrier in UCI World Ranking – a pretty dazzling record.

Despite losing his crown at Le Tour in 2022 in an epic tussle with Jonas Vingegaard, Pogačar is only just entering the prime of his career – a scary prospect for the rest of the peloton given his achievements so far.

Let’s dig into some of his key attributes to find out what has allowed him to get to this kind of performance level.

Physical Attributes

The Tour de France is considered the world’s most physically-demanding road race, but Pogačar has proven himself to be more than capable of handling it.

In terms of height, cyclists can vary a lot, with previous Tour winners like Bradley Wiggins (6ft 3in) and Chris Froome (6ft 1in) comfortably rising over the 6ft mark, while 2022 Tour de France competitors Caleb Ewan (5ft 4in) and Nairo Quintana (5ft 5in) are more diminutive.

Pogačar sits slap bang in the middle. Standing at 1.77m, or 5ft 912 in, he’s very slightly above the average height of a World Tour cyclist (5ft 9 in).

He weighs around 66kg (10 st 6 lb), with a slender but strong frame. Instead of having sticks for arms as some cyclists do, Pogačar’s core and upper body muscles help push him up the hills rather than weighing him down.

And Pogačar’s physical fitness has certainly seemed to have made an impression on the team working around him.

According to Iñigo San Millán, Director of Performance for Team UAE, “you need to have a very good recovery capacity” to become a Tour de France winner. “We’re talking about 5,000 to 9,000 calories of expenditure a day for 21 days. That’s like playing three soccer games each day for 21 days in a row.”

Impressive stuff when you put it like that!

Tadej Pogačar Bike

Most of Tadej Pogačar’s success has been aided by a trusty companion: his Colango V3Rs road bike.

Now known as the classic Tadej Pogačar bike of choice, the Colnago V3Rs has been around for years, with the Slovenian cyclist usually opting for the slightly lighter rim brake model.

We’re also used to seeing the Colnago K.one time trial bike as the Tadej Pogačar TT bike of choice.

However, at the 2022 Tour de France, Pogačar showcased a new bike, the Colnago Prototipo, which he used for every mass-start stage.

In an incredible battle with Danish rider Jonas Vingegaard (which Vingegaard eventually won), the Prototipo was center stage, helping him win multiple stages, including a legendary contest at Stage 17.

The Prototipo comes with aero tube shapes, a 2×12-speed Campagnolo Super Record EPS groupset, fully internal cable routing, a slightly sunken bottle cage mount area on the down tube, and a slimmed-down head tube.

As the name suggests, the Prototipo is currently available only to the UAE Emirates team for its final round of in-competition testing – but expect to see a production model coming soon!

Tadej Pogačar Salary

Given all the talk about the incredible success this remarkable rider has enjoyed in recent competitions, you might be wondering what the rewards are.

While the figures earned by the world’s best cyclists aren’t exactly on par with some of the biggest names in other sports, Tadej Pogačar’s salary is still pretty staggering.

In a report published by Italian sports finance outlet Calcio e Finanza earlier this year, two-time Tour de France winner Tadej Pogačar topped the list of the world’s biggest-earning cyclists with a €6 million ($6.6 million) salary.

Following closely behind on the list were Israel Start-Up Nation rider Chris Froome (€5.5 million) and TotalEnergies’ Peter Sagan (also €5.5 million).

It’s important to note that these figures are estimates based on 2021 figures. They also don’t appear to have factored in riders’ earnings from endorsements outside the pay of teams, so it’s likely that the real Tadej Pogačar salary is even bigger than that.

Not bad, huh? The Tour de France might be extremely long, but if you can get to the end of it in good time, there are some serious rewards on offer…

What Does It Take To Be The Best?

We’ve explored a few of the key factors behind the incredible recent success Tadej Pogačar has enjoyed in competitions such as the Tour de France, the Strade Bianche, the Vuelta a España, and the Tour of California.

Physical attributes, fitness levels, genetics, a rider’s choice of bike, and engineering tweaks that are made; these are all important factors that lead toward top-level cycling success.

But when it comes to reaching the pinnacle of the sport and becoming a world-beating cyclist, some riders have that X-factor that carries them above and beyond the rest of the field.

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