Teenaged Tadej Pogačar dreamed of lion tattoos

Tadej Pogačar holds aloft a stuffed toy LCL lion.

by Iain Treloar

photography by Kramon


The internet can be a treacherous place, harbouring all sorts of embarrassing secrets. The bad music you used to listen to; your Myspace profiles from way back in the day; your LiveJournals of fan fiction. 

Tadej Pogačar – cycling revelation and winner of the 2020 Tour de France – is young enough to dodge many of those indignities … but he did have a Pinterest account

With a massive tip-of-the-hat to VeloNews’ Sadhbh O’Shea, whose research methodology I am a big fan of, this secret of cyberspace is now out in the open: 

You forget how young Pogačar is, such has been his dominance over the last couple of years. Back in 2018, he didn’t even have a WorldTour contract.

Then just 19, he was riding for the popular Slovenian Continental team that we’ve definitely all heard of, Ljubljana Gusto Xaurum. And Pogačar, well, he was just a nice young kid from Komenda with dreams.

What were those dreams? I’m glad you ask. Tattoos, mostly. 

Pogačar’s fleeting dalliance with Pinterest shows that the future star really, really just wanted a tattoo of a lion on his arm. He wasn’t sure which type of lion; he was eyeing off big ones and small ones. Male ones and female ones. Majestic Aslan-esque lions, dualling ones, roaring ones, and little ones with truncated manes so they fit into geometric shapes. 

There seems to have been a fleeting interest in deer, bears, and wolves, too, although he would successfully dodge the bullet of joining the Deceuninck-QuickStep ‘wolfpack’.

It’s mostly lions, though. 

There’s just one cycling photo of Tadej Pogačar on his 2018 Pinterest board. It’s of a rainy day in February, at that year’s GP Laguna Porec, and Pogačar’s crossing the line for fifth.

That’s not a race that most of the cycling world has heard of, but at the time it was clearly a result that meant enough to young Tadej Pogačar that he saved it to his digital mood board. 

None of this means much, given the world-beating trajectory of his recent career, but it – along with those teenaged dreams of an animalistic sleeve – gives a fascinating glimpse into the person behind the cycling superstar. 

Tadej Pogačar circa 2021 does not – to the best of our knowledge – have his lion tattoo. He does, however, have a few results on his palmares that would’ve seemed unfathomable to him back then, when he was just a gangly kid from Slovenia with a Pinterest page and a dream.

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