Friday 19/01/24 we posted here on this website the article published in Cyclelive Magazine 76, with the palmares up to the 24th birthday of the greatest riders in the history of cycling. The starting point in that issue is the fact that Remco Evenepoel turns 24 today and we compared the palmares - up to that 24th birthday - of the greatest riders from various eras.

We chose 61 great names from different eras and different countries and compared them. Enough has already been written about Eddy Merckx and his final palmares are the yardstick by which everyone will be judged, until one day someone does better.

The fact that there are now some phenomena riding around in the peloton that could well come close to Eddy’s palmares is a blessing for cycling today and especially for the numerous cycling fans. You can read about Remco Evenepoel being the Cannibal’s first pursuer in our extensive article.

Today we have arrived at Tadej Pogačar, the number four in our ranking with 145 points. That we bring him just today on Remco’s birthday is of course premeditated, because we are sure Remco would be cooing with joy if he could eat this Slovenian with skin and hair this season. We already put Tadej on Remco’s birthday menu….

First name: Tadej
Last name: Pogačar
Nationality: Slovenia
Age: 25 years old
Date of birth: 21-09-1998
Place of birth: Komenda (Kamnik), Slovenia

"We are sure Remco would coo with delight if he could eat this Slovenian with skin and hair."

Tadej was born and raised in Komenda, 20 km north of Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana. He lives with his partner – Slovenian professional cyclist Urška Žigart – in Monaco. As a young fellow, he was a big fan of Alberto Contador who served as his great role model.

Tadej Pogačar, Tour de France 2023, © UAETeamEmirates
Tadej Pogačar, Ronde van Vlaanderen 2023 © UAETeamEmirates

The last words have not yet been written about this Slovenian cycling prodigy. It sometimes seems like everything he does is just a beginning of what he has up his sleeve. He stormed the cycling firmament like no other in recent years. Not even Remco Evenepoel – who in our ranking scores better than the Slovenian who finished in fourth place anyway – did so with so much bravado. In 2019, he became a professional cyclist with UAE Team Emirates. Pogačar broke through to the general public that year by finishing third in the Vuelta at the age of 20. In 2020, he became the second youngest winner ever of the Tour de France. In that Tour de France, Pogačar amazed the cycling world by winning the time trial on the penultimate day as well, after the ninth and 15th stages. In that stage he turned a 57-second gap into a 59-second lead. In doing so, he saddled his compatriot Primož Roglič with a huge hangover. Tadej also became the youngest Tour winner since Henri Cornet in 1904.

"From this Slovenian cycling prodigy we have by no means seen everything"

A specialist in tour work, Pogačar has already won the Tour de France twice and achieved eleven stage wins. He is also an absolute world-class rider in the classics. The listed palmares up to the age of 24 have been impressively supplemented with a second Tour of Lombardy, Paris-Nice, Tour of Flanders, Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and three stages in the Tour de France. A fall in Liège-Bastogne-Liège 2023 left us – and so far still – hungry for a real duel with Remco Evenepoel. In 2024, it will probably finally come to that clash. Hopefully we will indeed see both exceptional talents in top form compete against each other in a few one-day races and the Tour de France. It will be a real treat then.

Tadej Pogačar, Ronde van Vlaanderen 2023 © UAETeamEmirates

Comparisons with Eddy Merckx

Tadej Pogačar is considered by many to be the current best rider in the world. Cyrille Guimard, one of Merckx’s rivals in the 1970s and later sports director for Greg LeMond, Lucien Van Impe, Laurent Fignon and Bernard Hinault, said even before Tadej started his second Tour, that Pogačar was above the level of both Merckx and Hinault. Even Merckx himself said after Tadej’s second Tour win that he considered the Slovenian to be “the new Cannibal. “If nothing happens to him, he can certainly win the Tour de France more than five times,” Merckx said.

So much for speculation and comparisons. We based our analysis on the accumulated palmares from before the 24th birthday and then we see that in the same generation, both Tadej and Remco have both ridden an impressive list in an equally impressive way.

In any case, we too place Pogačar at least as high on the talent ladder as Evenepoel, maybe even a step higher. But who will maintain focus and full motivation the most and the longest? In any case, Pogi already made a big splash after his 24th birthday. Will Remco too be able to further add to his number of big wins this year in that way? The future will show what the total palmares of both men will look like after their careers.

In any case, we are very curious!


Patrick Van Gansen

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