Tour de France.  “As a teenager, he swallowed 100 km by bike from 8:30 am,” recalls Ana, Tadej Pogacar’s grandmother.

Tour de France. “As a teenager, he swallowed 100 km by bike from 8:30 am,” recalls Ana, Tadej Pogacar’s grandmother.

A Slovenian star on the roads of the Tour de France. Since bursting into the UCI WorldTour four years ago, Tadej Pogacar’s roster has been impressive: two Tours de France (2020 and 2021), two Tours of Lombardy (2021 and 2022), twice Tierreno-Adriatico ( 2021 and 2022). Liège-Bastogne-Liège (2021), the Flèche Wallonne (2023), Paris-Nice (2023), the Tour of Flanders, the Grand-prix de Montréal (2022). This prize list places the young Slovenian in the tradition of Merckx, Bobet, Fausto Coppi, Gino Bartali and Bernard Hinault… The UCI praises the precocity of this young athlete who would have liked to become a professional footballer. Fate would have it otherwise, because Tilen, his brother, one year older than him, had taken a passion for cycling. Wanting to do like the latter, Tadej fell into the bicycle when he was little. In the wheel of Tilen, he found himself almost systematically facing opponents older than him, then winning all the races for schoolchildren in Komenda, his village. When he went up to Ljubljana, the capital, to enroll, at the age of 8, frail and puny, in the wake of his eldest, at the Rog Cycling Club, “he had to wait a year, not yet being sufficiently tall to have a training bike in his size”, recalls his grandfather France Štebe.

Endurance and selflessness

His physical qualities, his endurance and his desire to succeed were quickly spotted by Andrej Hauptman, a former professional runner who became his coach and mentor. Over the years and through hard work and self-sacrifice, he progresses. “Ado, when he came to see us between two training sessions, recalls Ana, his grandmother, he and told us: I have just swallowed 100 kilometers. I looked at my watch: it was only 8:30 in the morning!” , she wonders again. With a mind of steel and thousands of kilometers covered, the rough stone turns into a diamond. He multiplied the victories among juniors before turning professional by signing with the UAE Team Emirates at the age of 21, in 2019. That year, he won the Tour de l’Algrave (Portugal) and the Tour of California. , and finished third in the Vuelta (Tour of Spain) in which he won three mountain stages.

The parents’ motorhome

A few months later, he became the first Slovenian yellow jersey in the Tour de France and the youngest winner of this competition since 1904. Since then, he hasn’t stopped winning. …Waiting for new trophies, he lives, thinks, breathes cycling. Side also also in the “little queen” that he found love. Since 2021, he has been engaged to Urska Zigart (26), professional cyclist and three-time Slovenian time trial champion, met in 2017 during training… On July 6, 2023, during the Giro (Tour of Italy ) female, she got injured and left the race. She took the opportunity to join Tadej’s parents aboard the motorhome they rented to encourage her companion on all the stages of the Great Loop, in view of the third yellow jersey he came to pick up.

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