Everywhere you look in modern professional sport, there’s now an athlete with a visible tattoo on display.
It seems like a right of passage for every up and coming footballer that they need to get a full sleeve tattoo or two in order to demonstrate that they have, indeed, arrived.
The same could be said for the world of professional cycling.
Roll back to the 90’s and early 2000’s and there would be the odd rider or two with a discreet tattoo, but fast forward 10 years, and suddenly they start to become more of a common appearance on television pictures beamed into our homes from the Giro d’Italia or Tour de France.
To mark his recent retirement from professional cycling, 2021 Paris Roubaix champion Sonny Colbrelli has been inked with a remarkable new tattoo to mark the finest moment of his career. The Italian always had his tattoos on display while racing, but his new body art is his most impressive yet.
Lorena Wiebes, the creme de la creme of sprinters in the women's pro peloton, had her heavily tattooed arms in the air on plenty of occasions last season.
With that in mind, here are some of the most tattooed riders currently in the pro peloton.
British rider Stewart has several visible tattoos and told Cycling Weekly that he’s making the most of his end of season downtime to get more.
Stewart’s half sleeve design features a boxer and the script “Humble Hustle”. The Groupama FDJ rider also has a wolf, compass and roses on his forearm.
His impressive eight sleeve is a Japanese themed piece with a koi carp and dragon, inspired by Japanese mythology and the ancient legend of dragon gate.
With another six hour session done and dusted, expect to see more fancy body art from Stewart in WorldTour races across Europe next season.
Dutch sprinter Lorena Wiebes has several tattoos on her arms which she proudly had aloft at the Tour de France femmes this year.
On her right arm Wiebes has a band of flowers inked just below her elbow, although the most interesting design lies hidden on her forearm on the other side.
Interestingly, Wiebes has a tattoo of a bulldog’s face inked next to her elbow, perhaps that of her favourite pet. Either way, many riders in the women’s pro peloton can expect to catch a glimpse of the bulldog tattoo on Wiebes’ raised arms next season.
The Dutch woman is joining SD Worx next season and her dominance on sprint stage finales looks set to continue for some time.
Australian fast man Caleb Ewan has both arms inked with a variety of tattoos.
He rarely speaks about his tattoos in interviews, although he reportedly has one of his name in Korean text - his mother is from Korea.
He also has an image of a clock tattooed on one arm and an image of a lion on his upper arm.
It’s fair to say that Peter Sagan is a bit of a legend.
The Slovakian has stacks of titles to his name, including winning the road world championship title in three successive years, and he has a rather interesting tattoo.
As well as tribal style tattoos on his shoulders and down his back, Sagan has a tattoo of himself as Heath Ledger’s famous Joker character from the Batman films with the phrase “why so serious?!”
If that wasn’t typical of Peter Sagan, then I don’t know what is.
As the Slovenian has gone about picking up stage wins at all three grand tours, as well as wins in a variety of classics and week long stage races, one particular thing has remained in common.
Television viewers getting a glimpse of the large crucifix tattoo on his right forearm that the Slovenian has had in the air hundreds of times throughout his career.
Expect to see that same tattoo on show as Roglič celebrates yet more victories next season.
BEST OF THE REST
As well as the current pros that made the list, three other former pro's deserve an honourable mention.
SIR BRADLEY WIGGINS
Throughout his glittering career, Wiggins's tattoos gradually sprouted further and further out from his jersey. In fact many were on show in the now iconic photographs taken by photographer Scott Mitchell in the wake of Wiggins’ Tour de France and Olympic triumph.
As well as the butterflies on his hand, and his children’s names on his chest, Wiggins has continued to accrue multiple tattoos since retirement, so much so that his entire upper body is now covered in body art.
However one of his most famous tattoos is of an album cover of the band The Prodigy on his left shoulder.
Gilbert recently called time on his brilliant career at the end of the current season.
When it comes to cycling, the Belgian epitomises the phrase “been there, done that and got the t-shirt for good measure.
Gilbert’s achievements are endless in the sport and include stage wins at all three grand tours, wins at Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders as well as two Il Lombardia titles.
His best known achievement is winning the Amstel Gold race four times in the Netherlands. Gilbert also won the world road championship title on the same roads in 2012 and got himself a tattoo of the rainbow bands to mark the occasion.
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Last but not least, the man that inspired our piece... Sonny Colbrelli.
According to the Italian’s instagram, Colbrelli’s new ink depicts “everything about” the Italian’s life to date.
At the top of his shoulder, or the sky in the image, is the cobblestone trophy of Roubaix 2021 with a hand proudly raising it up amongst the clouds.
Then the rest of the artwork depicts Colbrelli with his back to us walking along the cobbled sector of the Arenberg forest pushing his bike with his right hand, holding the hand of his daughter with his left and carrying his son on his shoulders along the scene of his biggest career victory.
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