The Campagnolo-using Slovenian superstar has enjoyed an annus mirabilis. And he’s still only 23!
Here we chart a year like no other.
“I think he can do better than me.”
The words of Eddy Merckx when asked recently about his assessment of UAE Team Emirates and Campagnolo-using rider Tadej Pogačar.
“At 24 I had not even won the Tour,” the Cannibal continued. “He is 23 and still at the beginning of his career but he is doing better than me in some races."
That’s quite a compliment for the Slovenian but warranted after a 2021 where Pogačar rode into the record books, becoming the first rider in history to win two Monuments, the Tour de France and an Olympic medal in the same year.
This came off the back of a 2020 where he became the second youngest rider in history to win the Tour de France.
Oh, and he finished the 2021 season ranked number one rider in the world in the UCI rankings. Who knows how far this humble, fearless rider can go in his career?
? A rider who maximises every efficient and aerodynamic advantage of his Campagnolo Super Record and Bora Ultra set-up to redefine what’s thought possible in modern cycling.
What’s clear is that it’ll take another immense effort to better 2021, a year of successes that started back in February
WINNER UAE TOUR, 21-27 FEBRUARY 2021
Lotto-Soudal’s Caleb Ewan, who also uses Campagnolo Super Record and Bora Ultra wheels, may have won the seventh and final stage of the UAE Tour but it was Pogačar who took the overall victory, after neutralising the threat of his main rival Adam Yates.
Pogačar rode into the lead on stage two and never relinquished it. The key move of the race came on stage three when Pogačar outfoxed Yates to win atop Jebel Hafeet.
WINNER TIRRENO-ADRIATICO, 10-16 MARCH 2021
Pogačar had to wait until stage four to move into the overall lead at Tirreno-Adriatico when he claimed a solo win on the queen stage to Prati di Tivo.
One day later, he showed his true grit in cold, wet weather when he gained time on all of his closest rivals and nearly caught breakaway rider Mathieu van der Poel.
He finished over one minute ahead of second-placed Wout van Aert come the final standings after an impressive time-trial.
WINNER LIEGE-BASTOGNE-LIEGE, 25 APRIL 2021
Pogačar overcame the disappointment of not racing La Fleche Wallonne because two staff members tested positive for Covid-19 by winning his first Monument.
The Slovenian was part of a winning move that included Michael Woods, Alejandro Valverde, David Gaudu and Julian Alaphilippe who broke from the pack with 13km to go.
Valverde, Alaphilippe and Pogačar were neck-and-neck down the finish straight before Pogacar showed yet another string to his bow by outsprinting his illustrious company to victory.
WINNER TOUR OF SLOVENIA, 9-13 JUNE 2021
The home crowds had much to celebrate as Pogačar raced his home Tour for the first time. And just for good measure, he won it! He took the overall lead on stage two, attacking on the climb of Svetina, the penultimate climb of the day.
That stage victory was followed by a consistent performance that saw him win the overall title by over one minute from Campagnolo-using team-mate Diego Ulissi.
WINNER TOUR DE FRANCE, 26 JUNE-18 JULY 2021
Pogačar again made history in France, at 22 becoming the youngest-ever rider to win two editions.
For the second successive year, he also won the white jersey for the young rider classification.
Unlike 2020, however, where Pogačar wore yellow for the final stage only, in 2021 he led ever since winning the first mountainous stage on day eight.
A dominant performance saw him win two further stages (17 and 18) before cruising into Paris with a 5:20min lead, the greatest winning margin since Vincenzo Nibali won in 2014.
BRONZE MEDAL OLYMPIC GAMES ROAD RACE, 24 JULY 2021
It might not have been gold but Pogačar was thrilled with his bronze medal in Tokyo, telling the world’s press
"It’s something I cannot describe. I’m super happy – super, super happy."
Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz won gold with Belgian Wout van Aert winning silver.
WINNER IL LOMBARDIA, 9 OCTOBER 2021
Pogačar joined Fausto Coppi, Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault in winning the Tour de France and Il Lombardia in the same season after beating Fausto Masnada in a two-up sprint. Not a bad effort after 239km in the saddle.
Pogačar also finished on the podium at Itzulia Basque Country, Slovenia’s national time-trial championships and Tre Valli Varesine to confirm his number-one spot in the rankings.
From all at Campagnolo, we wish Tadej an even better 2022. But before then, maybe a little bit of rest!