Competitive cycling is a hard sport. There are no two ways about it.
The races can range from one-day classics to multi-stage Grand Tours, such as the Tour de France. They can take place on roads, tracks, or mountain trails.
Cyclists compete to be the first across the finish line, to cover the course in the shortest amount of time. The goal can also be to earn points based on their performances in specific races or stages.
In this article, we will be looking at some of the most famous cyclists of all time!
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Who Are The Greatest Cyclists Of All Time?
In the next few paragraphs, we’ll talk about the most influential bicycle riders worldwide.
Keep reading if you want to find out more.
#1 – Eddy Merckx
|Date of Birth||June 17, 1945|
|Duration of Active Career||1965-1978|
|Greatest Success||5-time Tour de France winner, multiple Classics wins, and record for most Grand Tour stage wins|
Eddy Merckx is widely regarded as one of the greatest cyclists of all time.
Born in Belgium in 1945, he won 11 Grand Tour races, 5 Monuments, and 3 World Championships. He held the hour record and won numerous classic races, including the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
Merckx dominated the sport in the 1970s, earning the nickname “The Cannibal” for his insatiable appetite for victories.
After retiring from professional cycling, he founded a bicycle manufacturing company that produced high-end racing bikes.
Merckx continues to be a beloved figure in the cycling world, and his achievements inspire generations of cyclists.
#2 – Bernard Hinault
|Date of Birth||November 14, 1954|
|Duration of Active Career||1974-1986|
|Greatest Success||5-time Tour de France winner, multiple Classics wins, and one of only five cyclists to have won all five Grand Tours|
Bernard Hinault is a retired French professional cyclist who is considered one of the greatest riders in the history of the sport. He was born on November 14, 1954, in Yffiniac, France.
Hinault’s professional career spanned from 1975 to 1986, during which time he won the Tour de France five times and the Giro d’Italia twice.
He was known for his aggressive riding style, powerful sprints, and uncompromising competitiveness.
Hinault was also a member of the powerful La Vie Claire cycling team, which dominated the sport in the 1980s.
After retiring from racing, Hinault has remained involved in the cycling world as a commentator and adviser to young riders.
#3 – Miguel Indurain
|Date of Birth||July 16, 1964|
|Duration of Active Career||1985-1996|
|Greatest Success||5-time Tour de France winner, two-time Giro d’Italia winner, and holder of the record for most consecutive Tour de France wins (5)|
Miguel Indurain is a retired Spanish professional road racing cyclist. He was born on July 16, 1964, in Villava, Spain.
Indurain is best known for his dominance in the Tour de France, winning the race five consecutive times from 1991 to 1995.
He is also a two-time winner of the Giro d’Italia (1992, 1993) and a former time-trial world champion (1995). In addition to his Grand Tour victories, Indurain also won several one-day classics and was a powerful force in the individual time trial.
He retired from professional cycling in 1997 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011.
#4 – Fausto Coppi
|Date of Birth||September 15, 1919|
|Duration of Active Career||1940-1956|
|Greatest Success||2-time Giro d’Italia winner, 2-time Tour de France winner, multiple Classics wins|
Fausto Coppi was an Italian professional road racing cyclist who was born on September 15, 1919, in Castellania, Italy.
Coppi was one of the greatest cyclists of all time, winning the Tour de France twice (1949, 1952). He has won the Giro d’Italia five times (1940, 1947, 1949, 1952, 1953).
He was also a two-time world champion (1946, 1947) and a winner of several prestigious one-day races, including Milan-San Remo and the Giro di Lombardia. Coppi was known for his all-around skills, aggressive style, and long-range solo attacks.
He died in January 1960 at the age of 40, but remains a revered figure in Italian cycling history.
#5 – Jacques Anquetil
|Date of Birth||January 8, 1934|
|Duration of Active Career||1954-1969|
|Greatest Success||5-time Tour de France winner, 2-time Giro d’Italia winner, first cyclist to win the Tour de France five times|
Jacques Anquetil was a French professional road racing cyclist who was born on January 8, 1934, in Mont-Saint-Aignan, France.
Anquetil was a five-time winner of the Tour de France (1957, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964) and a two-time winner of the Giro d’Italia (1960, 1964).
He was the first rider to win the Tour de France five times. He was also the first to win all five of the Grand Tours (Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España, and Tour de Suisse).
Anquetil was known for his ability to win time trials and his cool and calculating racing style.
He retired from professional cycling in 1969 and died in November 1987 at the age of 53.
#6 – Alberto Contador
|Date of Birth||December 6, 1982|
|Duration of Active Career||2003-2017|
|Greatest Success||2-time Tour de France winner, 3-time Giro d’Italia winner, 2-time Vuelta a España winner|
Alberto Contador is a retired Spanish professional road racing cyclist who was born on December 6, 1982, in Madrid, Spain.
He is considered one of the greatest Grand Tour riders of all time, having won the Tour de France twice (2007, 2009). He won the Giro d’Italia twice (2008, 2015), and the Vuelta a España three times (2008, 2012, 2014).
Contador has also won several prestigious one-day races, including the 2009 Paris-Nice. He was known for his attacking style, his ability to win time trials, and his aggressive racing tactics.
He retired from professional cycling in February 2018 after a career that lasted more than 15 years.
#7 – Lance Armstrong
|Date of Birth||September 18, 1971|
|Duration of Active Career||1992-2011|
|Greatest Success||7-time Tour de France winner (1999-2005), 2-time time trial world champion, and considered one of the greatest cyclists of his generation before being stripped of his Tour de France titles due to doping violations|
Lance Armstrong is a retired American professional road racing cyclist who was born on September 18, 1971, in Plano, Texas. He is best known for his seven straight Tour de France victories from 1999 to 2005. This feat was later taken away from him due to doping violations.
Armstrong was also a two-time winner of the Tour Du Pont and a former world champion in the individual time trial (1993). He retired from professional cycling in 2005 and made a comeback in 2009 before retiring again in 2011.
Armstrong has been the subject of controversy throughout his career, both for his dominant performances and for his admission of doping.
#8 – Gino Bartali
|Date of Birth||July 18, 1914|
|Duration of Active Career||1935-1954|
|Greatest Success||2-time Giro d’Italia winner, 3-time Tour de France winner. He also served as a courier for the Italian resistance during World War II.|
Gino Bartali was an Italian road bicycle racer who competed between 1936 and 1954. He was one of the top racers of his generation, winning the Giro d’Italia three times and the Tour de France twice.
Bartali was also known for his courageous actions during WWII, using his bicycle to smuggle false identity papers and other documents to people in need. After retiring from racing, he opened a bicycle shop and became a successful team manager.
Bartali was inducted into the Hall of Fame of Italian sports in 2011, and his legacy continues to inspire cyclists around the world.
#9 – Beryl Burton
|Date of Birth||May 11, 1937|
|Duration of Active Career||1954-1983|
|Greatest Success||Multiple national road race and time trial champion, 2-time world road race champion, and holder of the women’s 12-hour time trial record (277.25 miles)|
Beryl Burton was an English road racing cyclist who dominated the sport in the 1950s and 1960s. She won multiple national and world championships, setting numerous records along the way.
Burton was a fierce competitor, known for her impressive endurance and speed, as well as her sportsmanship and humility.
Despite facing significant gender barriers and limited recognition for her achievements, Burton continued to compete at the highest level for over two decades.
She remains a pioneering figure in women’s cycling and is remembered as one of the greatest female athletes of all time.
Burton was posthumously inducted into the British Cycling Hall of Fame in 2015.
#10 – Greg LeMond
|Date of Birth||June 26, 1961|
|Duration of Active Career||1981-1994|
|Greatest Success||3-time Tour de France winner (1986, 1989, 1990), 2-time world road race champion, and considered one of the greatest American cyclists of all time|
Greg LeMond is a retired American professional road bicycle racer who is considered one of the greatest cyclists of all time. He was born on June 26, 1961 in Lake Tahoe, California.
LeMond won the Tour de France, the world’s most prestigious road race, three times, in 1986, 1989, and 1990.
He is the first and only American to win the race and one of the few cyclists to win the Tour multiple times. LeMond also won two World Championships and the prestigious one-day classic race Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
He retired from professional cycling in 1994 and has since been inducted into the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame.
#11 – Jan Ullrich
|Date of Birth||December 2, 1973|
|Length of Active Career||1995 – 2007|
|Greatest Success||Tour de France Champion (1997)|
Jan Ullrich is a retired German professional road bicycle racer who was one of the top cyclists of his generation.
Born on December 2, 1973, in Rostock, East Germany, Ullrich won the 1997 Tour de France. He became the first German to win the race in its history. He won the gold medal in the road race at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney.
Besides that, he has also claimed several other victories in major road races throughout his career.
Ullrich was known for his strong time-trialing abilities and aggressive racing style, which helped him gain a reputation as one of the top riders.
Despite his successes, his career was plagued by controversy, including a ban for doping in 2012.
#12 – Mark Cavendish
|Date of Birth||May 21, 1985|
|Duration of Active Career||2007-2021|
|Greatest Success||30-time Tour de France stage winner, multiple national road race champion, and considered one of the greatest sprinters in the history of road cycling|
Mark Cavendish is a British professional road bicycle racer, widely regarded as one of the greatest sprinters of all time.
Born on May 21, 1985, on the Isle of Man, Cavendish has won over 100 races in his career, including 30 Tour de France stages, making him one of the most successful riders in the race’s history.
He has also won the Milano-Sanremo classic race and the points classification in several Grand Tours, including the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia. Cavendish has won multiple World Championships, including the road race in 2011.
Cavendish has been known for his incredible speed and finishing power, making him one of the most exciting riders to watch in the peloton.
#13 – Tom Boonen
|Date of Birth||October 15, 1980|
|Duration of Active Career||2002-2017|
|Greatest Success||4-time Paris-Roubaix winner, 2-time Ronde van Vlaanderen winner|
Tom Boonen is a retired Belgian professional road bicycle racer who is considered one of the greatest classics specialists of all time.
He was born on October 15, 1980, in Mol, Belgium. Boonen won several of the sport’s most prestigious one-day races, including Paris-Roubaix, the Tour of Flanders, and the E3 Harelbeke, among others.
He is one of only four riders to win all three races multiple times. Tom also won several stages in Grand Tours, including the Tour de France. He claimed the green jersey as the points classification winner in the 2005 and 2006 editions.
Boonen retired from professional cycling in 2017 and was inducted into the Belgian Sports Hall of Fame.
#14 – Phil Anderson
|Date of Birth||January 17, 1959|
|Duration of Active Career||1979-1994|
|Greatest Success||First Australian to wear the Tour de France yellow jersey, multiple national road race champion|
Anderson is a retired Australian professional road bicycle racer who was one of the first non-European riders to make a significant impact in European racing. Born on December 17, 1959, in Warrnambool, Australia, Anderson began his career as an amateur before turning professional in 1979.
He won several races in his career, including stages in the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France. He became the first Australian to wear the yellow jersey as leader of the general classification in 1981.
He was a key figure in helping to break down barriers for non-European riders in the sport.
Phil retired from professional cycling in 1994 and has since been inducted into the Australian Cycling Hall of Fame.
#15 – Joop Zoetemelk
|Date of Birth||December 16, 1946|
|Duration of Active Career||1965-1987|
|Greatest Success||16th and final Tour de France stage winner, 1980 Tour de France winner, and considered one of the greatest Dutch cyclists of all time|
Joop Zoetemelk is a retired Dutch professional road bicycle racer who is considered one of the greatest riders in the history of the sport.
Born on December 16, 1946, in Rijpwetering, Netherlands, Zoetemelk began his professional career in 1965 and won several races throughout his career.
He achieved victory in the Tour de France in 1980, which he won after a long and successful career. He is one of only a few riders to have finished the Tour de France 16 times. That is why he is widely regarded as one of the toughest and most consistent riders of his generation.
Zoetemelk retired from professional cycling in 1987 and has since been inducted into the Dutch Sports Hall of Fame.
The Best Cyclists And Their Records
In this article, you have learned about the 15 best, most successful and most famous cyclists of all time.
Now we would like to present you some extraordinary records, some of which have lasted for many decades.
|Most Tour de France victories||Lance Armstrong (7)|
|Most Grand Tour victories||Eddy Merckx (11)|
|Most Classics victories||Eddy Merckx (19)|
|Longest Distance Cycled in One Hour||Bradley Wiggins (54.526 km)|
|Most Tour de France Stage Wins||Eddy Merckx (34)|
|Most Giro d’Italia Stage Wins||Mario Cipollini (42)|
|Most Vuelta a España Stage Wins||Roberto Heras (24)|
|Youngest Rider to Win a Grand Tour||Marco Pantani (Tour de France, 1998)|
|Most Consecutive Tour de France Wins||Miguel Indurain (5, 1991-1995)|
|Most Consecutive Grand Tour Wins||Fausto Coppi (3, 1949-1952)|
|Most Consecutive Classic Wins||Rik Van Looy (5, 1961)|
|Fastest Individual Time Trial||Fabian Cancellara (57.8 km/h)|
|Most Hour Record Attempts||Graeme Obree (2)|
|Most World Championships||Alfredo Binda (5)|
|Most World Championships in One Discipline||Marianne Vos (7, Cyclocross)|
|Most Olympic Medals||Chris Hoy (6)|
|Most Mountain Classification Wins||Federico Bahamontes (8)|
|Most Points Classification Wins||Erik Zabel (6)|
|Most Combativity Awards||Jacky Durand (7)|
|Most Day’s in the Yellow Jersey||Eddy Merckx (96)|
All of these riders have dominated the sport with numerous wins in the Grand Tours and Classics.
They have left an indelible mark on the sport of cycling, and their legacies continue to inspire future generations of cyclists. Their impressive achievements and longevity in the sport solidify their place in cycling history.
Luna could well be described as a bicycle maniac. She likes to get on her racing bike at the weekend, but for her commute to work she prefers to use her mountain bike. She passes on her knowledge, which she has acquired over many years, to you in great articles.
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