Tadej Pogačar’s Wardrobe Faux Pas Stirs Controversy at the Giro d’Italia

a group of people wearing helmets and riding bikes
Tadej Pogačar’s Wardrobe Faux Pas at the GiroPhoto Illustration by Tom Messina using Getty, © vchalup -

Giro d’Italia leader Tadej Pogačar is potentially in trouble with the UCI for a wardrobe malfunction… and no, it isn’t sock height or a really, really strange aero helmet. Instead, the current race leader was in danger of disqualification over the slightly purple bib shorts that he sported with his Maglia Rosa (pink leader’s jersey) on Stage 3.

The UAE Team Emirates rider was the heavy favorite heading into the Giro and took the lead on Stage 2. At the start of Stage 3, he showed up in the Castelli leader’s kit provided by the organizers. The crowd let out a collective gasp (we imagine). The jersey was pink, but the shorts! They were… purple!

A spokesperson for Castelli confirmed to GCN that the shorts were indeed granata, which is technically a shade of maroon, not purple—but very similar to the color of the points jersey, and thus, confusion-causing. However, Castelli argued that it was both a style and tribute choice and at least a teensy bit different from the color of the points jersey. “It’s a different color than the ciclamino, which has a darker shade of ciclamino. We didn’t want a Peppa Pig in the group 🐽 😂,” Søren Jensen, Castelli’s international marketing manager, told GCN.

Fair enough.

However, the UCI took umbrage with the two-tone kit. The UCI rules on leader’s jerseys indicate that riders have two options: shorts that match the jersey in color or the team’s standard issue shorts. This is not a big problem since Pogačar’s standard shorts are basic black. It is easily solved, except that now, the race leader doesn’t have the option to wear a skinsuit.

“Now I have my pants but no skinsuit. So, maybe today I cannot attack because I’m not fast,” Pogačar joked at the press conference ahead of Tuesday’s stage. (Spoiler alert: he attacked and won the stage.)

He also delivered this line that surely will make its way onto t-shirts at some point, akin to Jens Voigt’s famous ‘shut up, legs’ moment:

“No skinsuit, no aero.”


News outlets report that the UAE Team Emirates manager got the call about the shorts/jersey situation while on course during Monday’s stage 3 and scrambled to come up with a solution to a problem that they had not created. And so, poor Pogačar has been subject to three wardrobe iterations in the last three stages. Let’s assess.

First, the offending pink/purple leader combo:

topshot cycling ita giro
LUCA BETTINI - Getty Images

The purple shorts were meant as a tribute to the Italian Torino football team, specifically to the athletes who were killed in the 1949 Superga plane crash that claimed the lives of 31 people, including most of the players on the Italian national team.

Then, the black bib option while the purple problem was considered:

cycling ita giro
LUCA BETTINI - Getty Images

Apparently better, but it has to be said: Not nearly as aero as the skinsuit, and not nearly as stylish as a monochromatic kit.

Finally, Pogačar received the full pink ensemble for Wednesday’s stage:

cycling ita giro
LUCA BETTINI - Getty Images

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