This is getting out of control. (Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images)

Why Tadej Pogačar is so tufty this Tour de France

The cute story behind a cycling superstar's "good luck charm".

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If you’ve spent any time watching cycling in the past few years, you’ll have seen them – you can’t help it, really. Their owner has won Olympic medals, two Tours de France, Monuments, and just about everything in between. And for most of those victories, there’s been a signature tuft of hair sticking out of the top of Tadej Pogačar’s Met helmet. 

This Tour, when footage emerged of the Slovenian superstar riding in the peloton, astute observers noted that his hair situation has really gotten away from him. There was no longer just one tuft, but about six, Pogačar’s hair desperately sprouting toward the light from every possible angle. 

Now, we’ve delved into the Very Important Question of Tadej’s tufts in the past. We’ve asked if they represent an aerodynamic handicap, and been told by both Met and a rival brand (Specialized) that there’s very little in it – his hair’s drag would be “at most under a second over 40 km”, according to Pogačar’s helmet sponsor. We’ve taken a deep dive into our photographic archives and realised that Tadej’s tufts have been a thing for as long as he’s been racing at a high level. I even spent a couple hours locked in a futile battle with Google Translate trying to contact the Slovenian national hairdressing body to see if there’s a regionally specific hair growth pattern that leads to such memorable results. 

This Tour’s unusually tufty tufts seem different, though. There’s no new helmet to blame – Pogačar’s favoured road helmet remains the Met Trenta 3K Carbon MIPS. To the eye, there’s no radically different hairstyle. So what is going on?

A more traditional Pogačar tuft, last Tour.

The answer is both revealing, and quite cute. 

It turns out that Pogačar’s partner – fellow pro cyclist, Urška Žigart (Team BikeExchange-Jayco) – normally cuts his hair. The power couple of Slovenian cycling first met five years ago and became engaged last September, and over the years Žigart has become familiar with the mysterious ways of her partner’s locks. With that comes an innate awareness of how to discreetly style his hair around a helmet.

“I always shorten his upper hair quite a lot,” she said in a Twitter thread with CyclingTips’ Kit Nicholson. “But this time the haircut was done by their photographer and maybe he didn’t cut them enough.”

Pogačar is reportedly the highest paid rider in the peloton, with Gazzetta Dello Sport reporting that his current contract with UAE Team Emirates sees him earning €6 million a year, excluding bonuses, until 2027. Despite his leading position in the cycling universe, however, Pogačar has kept a down-to-earth, playful attitude, appearing in jokey rap videos and shit-posting on social media. To learn that he still gets his hair cut by his partner seems like pretty compelling evidence that he hasn’t let the whirlwind that is his life go to his head. 

There might be something more to it, too. This Tour de France, Pogačar faces a challenging road to Paris, with twin threats from Jumbo-Visma in the form of Jonas Vingegaard and Primož Roglič. For Pogačar to claim his third yellow jersey, he might need more than just good legs – he might need a bit of luck. But as he told CyclingTips in March, “for me, having this wisp of hair out of the helmet become almost like an amulet, a good luck charm”. 

If that’s the case, with this haircut, his rivals are doomed.

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