Legends of Tour de France
Definitely all winners of the Tour de France deserve a caption here, since it’s a hard race and takes a lot of dedication and a strong character to win it. Yet some of them have done it in a way, it stays in memory a bit more.
Here are some of the legendary Tour de France winners and some interesting facts about them.
While he’s often cited as the fastest, the toughest, and all-around greatest cyclist to ever compete, there’s still a lot you may not know about this Brussels-raised rider.
Merckx has been ‘Baron Eddy’ ever since he was given the noble title by King Albert II in 1996. Before that, Albert’s older brother, King Baudouin, had received the cyclist and his team in the royal palace after his greatest victory in the 1969 Tour de France, and Albert’s son Philip, the current Belgian King, has also expressed a fondness for Merckx, calling him ‘the greatest name in Belgian cycling.’ That’s three Belgian monarchs in a row to praise the Belgian king of the road.
Eddy has also been great friends with Lance Armstrong.
The two cycling deities used to be tight, but their relationship cooled considerably after the Armstrong doping scandal hit the fan in 2013. While Merckx has stated that Armstrong ‘will always remain a friend,’ he also disagrees strongly with Armstrong’s statements that it’s impossible to win a Tour de France these days without doping.
Lance Edward Armstrong is a former professional road racing cyclist born in Richardson, Texas. Armstrong is known to be a seven consecutive Tour de France winner from 1999 to 2005. He is also known for his “the look”. However, all of these titles, including minor ones, were all stripped off from him when he got involved in a doping scandal.
Lance Armstrong became a professional triathlete at age 16. In 1996, Armstrong joined the French cycling team, Cofidis Cycling Team, where he signed a $2 million deal for two years. In October 1996, just two months after joining a new team, Lance Armstrong was diagnosed with advanced testicular cancer. The said illness had spread to his lungs, brain, and abdomen. During his orchiectomy, Armstrong’s doctors said that he had very little chance to survive. They told Lance that he had a 20 to 50 percent chance to live to give him hope. After two years of medication and several surgeries, Lance Armstrong was declared cancer-free.
In a virtual points tie with No. 2 Hinault is arguably the second best Tour rider in History.
Hinault won an incredible 28 stages and five Tours, from 1978-1985, and was second twice, in 1984 and 1986. He is still the last French cyclist who has won Tour de France!
He is also know for his passion for winning and slight aggression - ready to strike his opponent when there is a chance, so there is his famous quotes like:
“As long as I breathe, I attack.”
‘’I slept like a baby the night before, because I knew that I'd win the next day.”
‘’I race to win, not to please people.’’
Jacques Anquetil was the first to win the Tour five times, and the first French rider to wear the yellow jersey from start to finish.
He was also the first to win four straight Tours, and had 16 stage victories in his career.
A great rider against the clock, Anquetil raced for money, not pride and, much like today's Tour specialists, he took great care in the details of winning. Never one to use too much energy, always just enough to win.
When asked how he felt about a five-second victory, he replied "it was four seconds too much." He was often considered as the most perfect pedalling machine in cycling history. He was a rider so calculating he was once described as ‘’pedalling like an insurance agent’’.
The French did not love him as they did Poulidor, and his lack of style points did not win him many fans, but he was an amazing bike racer.
This 22 year old cyclist became the youngest cyclist to win a UCI World Tour race when he won the 2019 Tour of California at age 20, but today there’s a new chapter under his title - The winner of 2021 Tour de France, the second youngest winner of the legendary race, and moreover, he’s done it two years in a row!
"I started watching the Tour de France back in 2009 or 2010, following Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck, spending all day in front of television and then going riding myself," he said in 2020.
Now, he'll head to the Olympic Games as the double Tour de France champion.
Currently he is one of the most recognisable cyclists in the Olympics in Tokyo. Tadej didn’t have much time to celebrate, since the races are so close one to another, and considering the different climate, jet lag and overall recovery time, his schedule is tight!
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